Last night's When I Get Older (BBC 1 9pm) was "celebrity" TV at its best. This was a compelling and deeply human film about real lives. Between them, the four stories covered poverty, loneliness, the complex pressures of giving and receiving care from your partner or family; loss, moving house, falling, family and identity.
This was a film that reminded us of the inequalities within current generations of older people: gaps in wealth, but also gaps in quality of life. It reminded us that more can be done. For example, I cannot think of a single JRF report on older people over the last decade that hasn't highlighted the need for better information, advice, advocacy and practical support – including around moving house. It also reminded of the value of local support – in this film, a day centre. Many of these are not surviving where they’ve relied on local authority or charitable grants.
In Thursday's programme, our four celebrities will stay in a care home. Care homes can be among the worst of institutions, but they can also be homes which enable people to live well. I'll be watching.
By comparison, last night's Newsnight debate on older people, pensions and funding social care was incredibly frustrating. Whilst delighted that Newsnight ran this, Paxman seemed not to have grasped the realities of the #carecrisis and the fact that one year on, the main political parties have still yet to come to consensus on the #Dilnot Commission proposals for care funding reform. We expect a White Paper on social care shortly – and a draft Social Care Bill – but only a 'progress report' on funding.
The Dilnot Commission's proposals, as thankfully one of the older women in the studio audience said, represent a year of careful and strenuous consideration. They are the best chance of achieving a settlement to a challenge we’ve been highlighting for 15 years. Yes, there are real issues of intergenerational fairness as our own work has highlighted. Yes, it is absolutely right that current generations of older people with housing assets should use some of these to pay for social care. And on this (as people seem to forget) the Dilnot proposals give this or any government the option to set the 'cap' and the 'threshold' lower or higher so that intergenerational fairness can be accounted for.
Pitting generations against each other does not make for good decision-making and sustainable policies. Living in an ageing society doesn't mean favouring old age over youth, nor youth over old age. It means seeking ways to create a society that is a good place for people of all ages, at all stages of life. That was a message that came across powerfully from those older people in the studio audience who advocated for more jobs for young people, and from younger people on Twitter watching #WhenIGetOlder who were moved to tears and anger by the poor quality of life of the older people in the film.