Healthy old manThousands of people in Britain face an uncertain future as they enter old age as they are underprepared to look after themselves if they need social care, a new poll of medical experts has revealed.

The results from the annual Astellas Innovation Debate have highlighted that many people are still financially unprepared for residential care in older age, with more than two-thirds still expecting the Government to fund high quality residential care in later life.

Despite only 21% believing elderly residential care will actually be provided by the state when they need it, people admit that they are not planning to pay for care themselves, with 1 in 8 expecting their children to cover the costs, while 30% would accept lower quality state social care. Just 10% say they would use a private insurance policy to pay for care home bills. 

Age UK estimates that current shortages in elderly care currently cost the NHS £669 million a year. In October 2015, the number of bed days lost due to delayed transfer of care peaked at 160,0943, leading to NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, to call for an urgent political consensus on paying for elderly and social care earlier this year. 

The survey also revealed a significant lack of awareness among the general public about the cost of health and social care. Almost a third of those surveyed thought a day in a residential care home cost less than £70 per day when the actual cost is, on average, about £97 per day, with some nursing homes charging up to £128. The findings follow a government announcement that a pledge to cap residential care costs at £72,000 per person has been pushed back to 2020.

Sir David Nicholson, former Chief Executive of the NHS, said: "The NHS and social care are two sides of the same coin one cannot be successful at the cost of the other. People do not fit into bureaucratic compartments and neither should funding."