Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE tackled the broad question of ‘What moral choices will the next generation face, for themselves, their parents, their children, and the wider world?’ by focusing on society’s view of the elderly and how their care is funded.
Baroness Neuberger was giving the last in our series of 400th anniversary community lectures. Having led the independent review into the Liverpool Care Pathway, she was able to draw on the panel’s conclusions during her lecture, particularly in relation to end of life care and assisted suicide. She spoke at length about how the elderly are viewed by society and the NHS – accused of hogging jobs for young people and bed blocking – and how these views affect their care.
The Baroness asked the audience whether society considers it reasonable to ask people in their 20s and 30s, who face financial pressures from student loans, housing costs etc, to fund the care of the elderly. She proposed that it is this generation that is going to have to find a viable solution to the ethics and growing costs of caring for an ageing society.
Questions from the audience were diverse and challenging ranging from a social contract, EU immigration, voting age, childhood obesity and how to get younger people engaged with politics.
It was a lecture that – perhaps inevitably – raised more questions than it gave answers. It certainly provided the audience with much food for thought, and their debate continued as they left the hall. A fitting end, therefore, to our thought-provoking and often challenging anniversary community lecture series.