the north face bones beanie Changing face of north Norfolk demands compassion from younger residents
For the past five years, for every child in the district there are three pensioners, and more than half the population is now made up of over 55s. The district is also seeing an increase in people who are in the age bracket leading up to retirement, prompting concerns about a north Norfolk retirement wave, as well as increasing pressures on social and health services.
Age Concern North Norfolk said the most prevalent issue faced by residents was isolation.
Angela Reith, manager of Age Concern North Norfolk, said: “We have determined that many individuals feel particularly isolated, and have little opportunity to participate in social events or activities.
“This is having a negative impact on their wellbeing, and if often cited as a factor towards poor mental health.”
A tea party held in Bunrham Overy Staithe to help old people on their own. Picture: Matthew Usher.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “We’ve seen the government has taken on a Minister for Loneliness and I absolutely think there’s a place for that in north Norfolk.
“That’s not limited to elderly people, because there are a lot of young people struggling with isolation, but because of rurality this problem is more noticeable.”
Mr Lamb added: “I think it’s time for the community to start coming together and taking responsibility for their neighbours. It’s not feasible for the NHS to send a health care professional to every older person in the district to help with their shopping, so communities need to come together not to administer care but to help them with smaller jobs.”
He added: “I visited one such group in Mundesley last week, and I’ve seen lots of different ones cropping up all over the constituency.”
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.
He said: “There is no doubt that this has a huge effect on the health services in our area, the hospitals and GPs for example.
“However we also know of the strains on the ambulance service, and these are more acute in a rural, expansive area, because of longer travel times.
“Something we’re particularly struggling with in east north Norfolk is recruiting the care staff to look after these people.”
Angela Reith of Age Concern North Norfolk. Picture: SIMON FINLAY.
The North Norfolk CCG has responded to the increase in demand by encouraging patients’ independence.
A spokesperson said: “There is a move to encourage more people to take greater responsibility for their own health and to manage their existing long term conditions better.
“This involves using NHS services wisely, self care and making use of local community pharmacies.”
They continued: “No one wants to go to hospital; bed based care is necessary for some people but is by no means always the best or only way to treat illnesses. The NHS across the country and locally is continually developing more out of hospital care to reduce reliance on ‘beds’ which are expensive and not always appropriate.
“Examples of this work include the North Norfolk supported care service, and GPs working in A and the NHS 111 service.
“Ninety per cent of NHS care is provided in primary care, so much is also being done to build in greater capacity and resilience for primary care, such as encouraging practices to work closer together making greater use of their highly skilled nurses and pharmacists.”
Age Concern North Norfolk also discussed the impact of growing demand on their services, one of which is the need for financial support.
Miss Reith said: “We are seeking funds to upgrade our toilet facilities which are now outdated and unable to meet the full personal needs of the older people we help.
She added: “People pay for some of our services but so much of what we do is funded by grants and bursaries. Without which we wouldn’t be able to survive. Any grants and donations are always appreciated.”
She added that volunteers’ time is just as valuable to them.
She said: “If you feel you have time to spare or skills that can help us, we can also use more volunteers in the North Norfolk area.”
Councillor Tom FitzPatrick, leader of North Norfolk District Council, said: “North Norfolk District Council is very much aware of the demographic within the district which sees an increasing percentage of the population in the older age brackets.