An in-depth research report was recently released by Age UK on Older Londoners: The highs and Lows of living in the capital.

There are almost 1.4 million over 60s living in London and 1000 were interviewed on the highlights and challenges experienced while living in the capital. While many generally feel positive about living in the city, only 13% think London is a place where older people are valued, and one of the main areas of concern is around health and wellbeing.

93% of over-60s Londoners feel that health and wellbeing is important, but only 64% of them are satisfied with their health and wellbeing, suggesting that there are unmet needs to be addressed. They’re concerned about their ability to access healthcare when they need it and only 37% were found to agree with the statement, ‘I feel confident I will get quality healthcare when I need it’.

Research conducted by the Health Foundation in 2022 found that the lack of confidence in access to quality healthcare is also felt at a national level, with an average of 64% of over 65s feeling that the general standard of care provided by the NHS has worsened over the last 12 months.

Concern about the future of the healthcare system is linked to a fear that it will become harder to access just at the point when people will need to rely on it more. Some of the most commonly mentioned challenges included low availability of appointments, navigating digital health services via online bookings and virtual appointments, and a low awareness of support for longer term health planning for things like care, assisted living, and ad hoc services.

Almost a quarter of over-60s Londoners who have a disability or long-term health condition admitted to feeling lonely, and there is a definite sense of people not knowing where to turn for support when they need it. Some of the direct quotes from participants painted a really concerning picture:

“You wait 3-4 weeks before you can see a doctor, whereas in the old days you’d be there within hours. The healthcare system for the elderly hasn’t improved at all which I think should be looked at.”

“Without family I don’t think you’d survive. Nowadays it’s so difficult to get hands-on help – family and friends are so important it’s unbelievable.”

“I don’t want to burden my daughter with my care, but I’ not sure what I will do if I need additional support.”

“I’m anxious about finding support in the future if my mobility declines further. I have help with shopping and meals from my neighbours but I don’t feel I can rely on them if I need further day-to-day support.”

“My next appointment is a video call in six months’ time and I’m worried that my health will have deteriorated even further by then.”

If you or your family are struggling with adult social healthcare, please get in touch to see how we can help at RJ Advocacy.