As lockdown begins to phase out over much of the UK we’ve decided to switch up our Letters and it’s my pleasure to introduce our first Build Back Better Letter this week. Rebecca and I have hopefully covered some interesting topics already and now we wish to look not just at how things have changed but how they will continue to change, and what our Responsible Future might look like.  

This week has been Carer’s Week which looks to highlight the role of unpaid carers in our society. It’s not a new event but I feel that it’s particularly poignant this year in the wake of our Thursday clap for carers sessions and the increased focus on how we can all look after one another. Since the outbreak of Covid-19 approximately 4.5 million people have become unpaid carers as they have lost previously established support systems and more people have had to take on new or additional commitments. The BBC recently reported that there are already 700,000 people in Scotland who are voluntary carers and in April Carers Scotland estimated that around 40% of these carers have had a care package stopped or reduced due to the pandemic. 

Even as we’re living longer and healthier lives it is likely that we will need care at some stage, or that we will need to care for a loved one. It is predicted that the UK population will grow nearly 20% by 2050 to almost 77 million people, with over 65s making up around 25% of the population. Back in 2005 it was predicted that by 2025 the over 85 population will increase by over 90% and by 2015 there were already half a million people in the UK aged over 90. One of the main worries during the Coronavirus pandemic has been for our elderly population, but there has also been an increased focus on the vulnerable members of society.  

Since the Thursday claps have stopped how do we continue to keep our dedicated carers in mind? How do we continue to move forward? How do we pay for this? How do we invest in this? We’re incredibly lucky to have the NHS but we’ve all heard about the strain the service is under – even before Covid-19. In this country we consider healthcare a universal right so I think we can all get behind UN Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing.  

There is a lot of detail behind each SDG and there’s already been so much progress made in achieving SDG 3, so I am just going to discuss a few points which I think are relevant for the future of healthcare. The UNencourages the research and development of vaccines and medicines which should be made accessible to everyone. They are also seeking a substantial increase in financing, recruitment and training within healthcare. In my first blog post I briefly mentioned the role of technology in healthcare and the part this plays in our Responsible Futures portfolio. Innovation in healthcare is not a new concept – it’s fundamental and as humans we continue to adapt to survive and we innovate.

The Montanaro Better World fund which is currently held in the Responsible Futures portfolio invests in a number of healthcare industries, from Sartorius Stedium Biotech which develops equipment used to bring biologic drugs to market faster, cheaper and with a reduced environmental impact, to Cochlear who are world leaders in the manufacture of hearing implants. The WHO estimates that over 360 million people live with disabling hearing loss so the fund also holds Amplifon who produce hearing aids with a growing developing market presence, currently less than 3% of people who need a hearing aid in developing countries have access to one.  

There are also holdings in the Montanaro Better World fund such as Ryman Healthcare who operate pioneering retirement and care homes in New Zealand and Australia or Medidata Solutions who are dedicated to improving the way clinical research is designed, conducted and analysed. My parents actually run an architectural practice that specialises in retirement and care homes so I know how much thought goes into planning the high level of care and ensuring the quality of life for each resident (I also have some idea of how much a care home can cost!) Since lockdown they have been focusing on the future of care and innovations within the industry and they are not the only people to do so. Scottish Care is currently developing a programme of work to explore the new reality of care since Covid-19.

Healthcare is also a major theme in the Baillie Gifford Positive Change fund. The fund invests in innovative companies such as Illumina which is the world leader in gene sequencing and genetic research and is predicted to be hugely influential in healthcare as well as profitable. During the Covid-19 crisis their technology has been used to track transmission, monitor the virus and develop therapies and vaccines. Investment in Dexcom shows how far medical technology has come with their devices for Continuous Glucose Monitoring that can transform the lives of diabetes patients and has the potential to become indispensable within healthcare.

Many of the goals within SDG 3 seem even more relevant since Covid 19 crisis as we are reminded how thankful we are for our health and for the people who care for us. The Health and Wellbeing goal looks to end epidemics such as AIDS, TB, malaria and other tropical diseases. Prior to experiencing Coronavirus we might have felt somewhat removed from the impact of an epidemic but now we know how hard we can work to combat this. SDG 3 also wants to “strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks”. The effects of a global pandemic are not just health related as we have been discovering, the UN states that “in rich and poor countries alike a health emergency can push people into bankruptcy or poverty”, but there is always a period of recovery in which we can make changes to build back better and stronger. 

Innovation and technology is exciting and the more glamorous part of care giving but SDG 3 also promotes mental health and well-being which many people may have found themselves struggling with during lockdown. If we look after our own mental and physical health we can do our own part for a responsible future. During Carers Week the focus is on supporting the carers within our community and recognising the valuable work they do. Becoming a carer often comes with emotional and financial challenges, it’s a serious topic but it’s one we’re used to dealing with at Cornerstone as we help each client manage their journey.

I haven’t had the experience of needing to care for a loved one, but I know some of my colleagues at Cornerstone have and that the business has been incredibly supportive. This is why we have decided to sign the pledge for Carer’s Week. We’re also big fans of Scottish Care’s Tech Device Network, which is designed to help families stay in touch with relatives who live in care homes and can’t easily be visited at the moment. The Network encourages donations of spare iPads, smartphones or laptops etc. which you can do by filling in the form at the bottom of this webpage https://scottishcare.org/techdevicenetwork/. They will then arrange collection or connect you with a care home to send the device to.  Your old iPad represents the spirit of connection and community and could, quite simply, bring a moment of joy to someone in care today.  

~ Ellie Maletto

Please note that the content of this letter is for information purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation to invest in any particular investment strategy or any individual company.

Although our physical offices are currently closed, we are business as usual from home, and available by phone and email as always. Please get in touch!  

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