By 2037 one in 12 people will be aged 80 or above, and the number of centenarians will have risen from 13,000 to 111,000. But where are all these people going to live – in residential care or in a house they call home? Two experts give us their views.

Simon Barter, marketing manager at Carewatch, a provider of home care support services across the UK:

"For older people, it’s not just about where they are, it’s also about what they are able to do for themselves. As they become frailer with age, their greatest fear is losing their independence and being unable to live at home. Older people have a better quality of life when they can remain independent and in their own homes. Carewatch has been running for over 20 years and supports independence with care at home.

"Home care services include personal care, practical care, live-in care, dementia care, convalescent care, long-term care, respite care and end-of-life care. When a request for help arrives, we will assess the individual’s needs and put together a personal care plan.

"In many cases, people see their Carewatch carer more than anyone else, as we often visit every day. One of the big challenges for older people is their families not living close by. Receiving personal and practical support can make a big difference. For example, being able to go shopping or visit friends.

"When there is a need for home care support, you can establish if there is an entitlement to funding. Local authority funded home care is means tested and requires there to be a substantial or critical need. Your local social services can provide a free assessment. General frailty is something the majority of older people experience, yet this does not fit the social funding criteria. We find we’re looking after more and more people because their home care is not covered.

"The fastest growing demographic group is the over 80s, which is expected to more than double to six million by the middle of 2037. This rising life expectancy will present a big challenge for society as dementia becomes more prevalent. As we’re living longer, this will undoubtedly impact on the demand to stay at home and receive care.

"When people are looking for a reputable social care provider, they tend to either call social services or search online. A lot of people find us this way. We’re registered with the Care Quality Commission, the regulatory body for the care sector. We adhere to strict procedures, policies and quality standards. Our carers are very important, delivering care with warmth and professionalism.”

Stephen Lowe, policy officer at Age UK, the country’s largest charity working in the field of later life:

“Most people don’t want to go into residential care and would prefer to stay in their own home, yet there are other options: for example, moving into warden-supported housing.

"Local authority support for social care funding is now very restricted. However, we expect more people will go to their local authority for support as a result of a new system that is being introduced in April 2016, where there will be a lifetime cap on how much people can spend on care.

"This follows recommendations by the Dilnot Commission to reform the way individuals pay for their care. The social care cap figure will initially be around £72,000. Once a person has spent that amount on care, they’ll be entitled to free care, but it does have restrictions.

"For example, all that counts towards the cap is money spent on care which meets local authority eligibility criteria (substantial or critical need for care support). As the spending cap is so high, it will only really help people who are spending a lot on longer-term care such as dementia.

"Age UK’s analysis has found over 870,000 older people who have difficulties carrying out daily living tasks (such as washing, cooking and going upstairs) are not getting any form of support. The main reason for this is local authority cuts in recent years. Local authorities have protected their spending for people with the highest needs but have greatly reduced funding for people with moderate or lower need.

"We expect the demand for care to increase, though it’s difficult to predict to what extent. Factors such as improvements to the health of the older population, medical advances and changes to family care may all have an impact.

"When older people start to develop care needs, they may need solutions other than home care, such as mutual support through meeting other older people in the neighbourhood via Age UK groups or volunteer schemes. We need the NHS to provide more preventative services for people in their own homes. A common reason why people go into residential care is due to incontinence, which they might be able to deal with at home with more NHS support.”

* This article first appeared in benhealth (issue 29, winter 2014), the magazine for members of benenden health.