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Future care needs: Are We Sitting on a Time-Bomb?

Populus research shows that only 12% of adults aged 55 or over have put aside money to pay for care needs they may have in the future. By contrast, a majority (58%) feel “it’s more of a priority to plan for other things I want/need to do now or in the immediate future”.

Meanwhile, only a third (34%) of over-55s had discussed their preferences for care in later life with a friend or relative, with a fifth (19%) not knowing where to turn for information about social care.

Previous Populus research has suggested a similar reluctance to plan for outcomes we’d perhaps rather not think about: just two per cent of married couples have pre-nuptial agreements in place, while research for Which? found that 61 per cent of British adults do not have a will.

Maintaining Independence

When over 55s were asked to think about what changes they  would be willing to make if their health and mobility did deteriorate:

  • 92% would make adaptations to their homes to aid mobility, such as installing a stairlift or low-cost aids.
  • 89% would use outside mobility aids, such as a mobility scooter or walking stick.
  • More than eight in 10 were happy to use a gardener, cleaner or handyperson to stay living independently.


Sources of Information and Advice

Populus also asked which resources respondents would use to explore care and support options, either for themselves, or for friends and family. We found that Google (46%) was the most popular option among all adults, slightly ahead of GPs (45%) and the Local Authority / Council website (45%).

We also asked about the single option people would go to first. Again, Google came top, while local authorities, the Care Quality Commission and social workers were each first choice for fewer than one in ten. Just three in ten (30%) of over 55s expect to get good quality care through the social care system.

Which? Managing Director of Public Markets, Alex Hayman, said: ‘The broken social care system cannot continue to fail older people and their families in delivering high-quality, affordable care when they most need support. ‘The Government must recognise that most people won’t have made extensive plans for their care, so the system must be designed to help people get the support they need at a time of crisis and stress for themselves and their loved ones.’

About our solutions

Populus delivers insight into the attitudes the British public. It offers the chance to form successful strategies for a range of organisations, and, by getting to the heart of social and cultural issues, delivers greater in-depth understanding of the fields in which they operate. Find out more about our Solutions.


Populus, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2,104 UK adults, of whom 793 were aged 55+ in June 2018. Responses were weighted to be demographically representative of the population. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For more information, see www.populus.co.uk.

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