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Older People

Welcome to the Older People section of Cumbria’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) 2015 onwards.

The latest Older People chapter can be accessed via the link below:

JSNA: Older People chapter

Key issues and recommendations

As summarised in the above chapter:

Key issues

The Cumbrian population is ‘super-ageing’. This means that the population of Cumbria is ageing faster than the rest of the UK population and the number of people of working age is reducing. By 2020, nearly 25% of the Cumbrian population will be aged over 65. As people grow older, their health needs become more complex with physical and mental health needs impacting on each other. As an example, there are an estimated 7,721 people living with dementia in Cumbria, with around 1,800 being diagnosed each year.  As our population ages this number is expected to rise substantially to 12,410 by 2030.  NWAS (North West Ambulance Service) data indicates that falls comprise approximately 88% of all injuries serious enough to warrant an ambulance call out for people aged 50 years and over.

Among older people there are inequalities in terms of deprivation and health outcomes, life expectancy and general health, and it is often the poorest older adults who suffer the greatest disadvantage.

The rurality of Cumbria is a significant factor for older people. Anecdotal evidence from Age UK across Cumbria suggests that access to health and social care services remains a real issue. This is mainly due to access - transport availability; variable clinic locations across Cumbria; challenges to get appointments with GPs; and routine appointments not fitting with bus timetables. Within Cumbria the challenges faced by our communities to ageing well vary between the rural and built environment. Connectivity to services in rural areas is a challenge. In Cumbria, 84 communities (LSOAs) rank amongst the 10% most deprived in England in relation to geographical barriers to services. Standards that may be achievable in an urban area may be difficult in a rural area and vice versa. Internet usage for older people in Cumbria cannot be quantified, but as the age profile in Cumbria is older than the UK it would suggest that internet usage will be lower than the national average.

Communities are a key asset in Cumbria. There are more than 56,000 residents across Cumbria providing unpaid care to either family members, friends, neighbours or others because of long-term physical or mental ill-health / disability or problems relating to old age. There are greater proportions of carers in Cumbria compared to the rest of England (Provision of unpaid care, Source: Census, 2011). A survey in 2009 indicates there are approximately 50,000 volunteers providing support through registered charities across Cumbria, providing on average 1 hour 25 minutes per week. There are reported divisions in communities such as incomers verses those born in an area, rich verses poor, and urban verses rural. Ethnic minority and gay community involvement is also often challenged. There also appears to be some gaps in long term strategies for ongoing issues e.g. volunteer car schemes.

Cumbria Emergency Departments (and Royal Lancaster Infirmary) do not currently categorise falls, which compromise the main injury group among older people, particularly those aged 65 years and over. While it is assumed that the majority of ‘other injuries’ are falls, especially among older age groups, it would be useful for the purposes of prevention and treatment to distinguish between falls and other accidents, and therefore to consider mechanisms to enable the further categorisation of unintentional injuries to include falls. 

Recommendations for consideration for commissioners

  • Commissioners need to consider barriers to ageing well for older people, this is across various arenas and includes access to services.

  • With Cumbria’s super-ageing population commissioners should ensure future assets and commissioned services are sustainable.

  • Identify risk groups in the older population in Cumbria and prioritise prevention.


Evidence and research

A range of evidence and research information including briefings and other publications supporting the JSNA is available at the links below.

Further information

For further information relating to the Older People theme of the JSNA please contact:

Charlotte Chorlton 
Public Health Project Officer
Health and Wellbeing - Public Health
Cumbria County Council
Tel: 01229 407312