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What about this idea? - Caring for older people to pay for your own future care

An Irish student has won an international award for a version of the proposal.

Image: Shutterstock

AN IRISH UNIVERSITY student has won an international prize for a proposal that would see people earning their own ‘caring credits’ for looking after elderly people.

The idea is that people could provide simple day-to-day assistance to elderly people in their own community and then trade the hours they put in for their own care, or for the care of their relatives.

It’s envisaged that the plan would be administered within a strengthened voluntary sector without removing the state’s responsibility to provide health care. Instead it would compliment existing services.

The proposal was written by Kyle Moore, an NUI Galway student from Raish, Co Mayo. His plan won him the £3,000 (€3,763)  AIG Legatum Prize which awards excellence in public policy from young people.

Moore explains that the system would act as a kind of ‘time bank’:

It’s a form of a time bank where they’ll earn one credit for one hour’s care. Then they can take these credits and save them up and they can either use them for their own care when they get older, as a supplement to their pension, or they can use them for long-distance care where they can give it to their parents.

Moore says that a Japanese system for ‘caring tickets’ allows people transfer their care credits to their relatives in other parts of the world. His idea would see people being able to transfer their credits across Europe.

Similar versions of the same idea are in place in other parts of Europe, like in the Netherlands where students can live rent-free in nursing homes as long as they spend at least 30 hours a month with residents.

Moore adds that the system would have a base set of rules but local communities could amend their own systems to suit their own requirements.

“The idea is that you connect with people within your own local network and the strength of that is that it can meet its own community’s needs,” he says.

Kyle Moore AIG Winner Moore is an undergraduate student in NUIG and intends to stay there to pursue a Masters. Source: Legatum Institute

Asked about whether some people may have ideological problems with the idea of working to pay for your own care, Moore says there may be issues from “the left and the right” but that his plans are not meant to give the government a pass on providing elderly care.

Instead, it’s about giving structure to tasks a community can provide for each other.

“It’s in no way meant to eliminate the State’s care, or in any way reduce it,” he says.

“It’s just meant to compliment it considering we’re moving into a time of demographic crisis. This is just to give people a chance to increase the level of care.”

The type of care I’m thinking about isn’t rehabilitation or anything like that. It’s just basic caring tasks like mowing a lawn, walking a dog, doing a person’s shopping and it could even be more than that like helping them wash or things like that.

The idea is it allows people remain independent for as long as possible because it costs, say the HSE or a government, a lot of money to provide those kind of services and they’re usually things that ordinary members of the community can provide.

“The additional benefit of this is that there’s an incentive to provide more personal care, to get to know the people in your community and know the people you care for.”

The AIG Legatum Prize is awarded by the the UK-based think-tank The Legatum Institute and the winner is chosen by a panel of journalists and experts.

The question posed by this year’s prize was, ‘how can we ensure that ageing societies are more prosperous societies?’

Read: Older people moving to smaller houses might help housing crisis >

Read: Dutch students can live in nursing homes rent-free (as long as they keep the residents company) >

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Rónán Duffy

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