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Time-banking scheme aims to solve elderly care crisis


Young volunteers who care for elderly people could bank the hours they put in as care for themselves when they need it in later life.

That’s the plan for Give&TakeCare, a £1m government funded venture which fosters a fundamentally new approach to care – one driven by time rather than money.

Hosted by Brunel University London and partnered by the East of England Co-op and Age Concern, Give&TakeCare CIC launches in Berkshire, on Friday February 10.

It could serve hundreds of thousands of people across the country in a fresh solution to Britain’s chronically underfunded care system.

As some councils planned to raise tax by up to 15%, to plug the funding gap, The Local Government Association last week warned the system is ‘on the brink of failing altogether’.

“We see this as the only solution to the increasing number of elderly people,” said Brunel’s Gabriella Spinelli, Give&Take’s co-director. “Many housebound older people are lonely, which leads to malnutrition and depression. Human contact can also help stave off Dementia, so by preventing these, this could save the NHS and Social Services vast amounts.”

The scheme’s creator and other co-director, popular scientist, Professor Heinz Wolff believes if enough people join, Give&Take “will give everyone the confidence it is a real alternative to current social-care models.”

Give&Take hopes to attract some of the millions of people who give unpaid care to loved ones. By joining, they can save up a care ‘pension’ which they could either claim back as care for themselves in retirement or for as care for a relative. The banked time, which the East of England Co-operative Society will manage is immune to inflation or market crashes, said Dr Spinelli. “An hour today is an hour tomorrow, and it’s still an hour in 20 years’ time.”

Professor Wolff, notes “by upskilling current informal carers doing their best without training or support, the scheme could improve the quality of care across the UK.”

“It may go against the grain for people who think care should be paid for by Government,” Dr Spinelli admits. “But the economic argument is against them.”

With  the promise of potential government funding Prof Wolff and Dr Spinelli are in talks with local authorities and The Care Quality Commission to  work out how Give&Take can work as an alternative national care system.

Find out more about Give&TakeCare