THERE is a demographic timebomb set to go off in Herefordshire in just five years time – and action is urgently needed to ensure it does not blow up in the faces of the most vulnerable.

In 2025 the baby boomers of the 1960s start to hit retirement age – doing two things to the county’s population.

First, it reduces the number of working age people in the county.

Second, it contributes to the growth of over 65s in the county.

We are looking at a scenario where the population of Herefordshire is dominated by more and more older people with fewer younger people to do the work – including caring for the elderly as they gradually get frailer and need help and support.

There is a national shortage in the social care workforce of around 122,000, and of the 250,000 who do work in the sector, a quarter are on zero hours contracts. Unless we change our attitudes to social care and start attracting far more staff, then the timebomb will do even more damage when it goes off.

Herefordshire is already a significantly older county than the English average, with 46,500 people aged 65+. The number of over 85s rose by 50% from 4,000 to 6,000 between 2001 and 2016. By 2036 that is forecast to rise to 11,600. (Herefordshire Council/The Health Foundation.

The Hereford Times Health and Social Care Awards were launched to give the sector a higher profile and to reinforce the real job fulfilment offered by working in the sector.

For more information on the awards, click here.

The need has never been greater, not just to fill the current shortfall in the workforce, but to ensure the county is ready for the big challenge ahead.

Herefordshire Council recruits on behalf of the care sector through its Care Heroes scheme: or follow @Heroes_Care on Twitter and Facebook.

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