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TitleA UK household survery of the ex-Service community
LanguageEnglish
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Total Pages112
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Page 1

A UK HOUSEHOLD SURVEY OF THE
EX-SERVICE COMMUNITY 2014

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About Forces in Mind Trust
The Forces in Mind Trust was founded in
2012, through an endowment of £35 million
from the Big Lottery Fund, to promote the
successful transition of Armed Forces
personnel, and their families, into civilian life.

By using our funds wisely, we work to gain an
understanding of an issue through commissioning
evidence generation and then exploiting the output to
effect real change. We work widely across the whole
voluntary and statutory sectors, ultimately delivering
more efficient and more effective support to the
community of ex-Service personnel and their families.

The Forces in Mind Trust also awards grants
to innovative pilot programmes, along with an
independent evaluation, that provide direct support
to ex-Service personnel and their families.

Full details of the grants we have awarded, our
published research, and our application process
can be found on our web site www.fim-trust.org.

About Compass Partnership
Compass Partnership is a management and research
consultancy specialising in the governance and
management of independent non-profit-seeking
organisations. Founded in 1982, we have worked
with over 800 not-for-profit clients and have built
up a body of knowledge on management and
governance in this field and a tried and tested range
of approaches to consultancy and research.

Jacinta Ashworth, Mike Hudson and Sally Malam
are joint authors of this report, with additional
contributions by Nick Donovan, Harriet Deane
and Dan Martin from The Royal British Legion.

Our details:

Greenbanks
New Road
Bourne End
Buckinghamshire, SL8 5BZ
Tel: + 44 (0)1628 478561
email: [email protected]
www.compasspartnership.co.uk

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38 HOW HE ALTHY IS THE E X-SERV ICE COMMUNIT Y?

Adult ex-Service
community

UK
Adults^

All
%

Vet’ns
%

All
%

Any condition 54 57

Multiple conditions 30 31

Any musculoskeletal 28 28

Problems connected
with legs or feet

19 19 9

Problems connected
with back or neck

13 12 8

Problems connected
with arms or hands

12 10 7

Limb loss * * n/a

Any cardiovascular/
respiratory:

24 25

Heart, blood pressure
or blood circulation

19 20 10

Chest/breathing 8 8 6

Any sensory: 17 19

Difficulty in hearing 9 11 3

Difficulty in seeing
(when wear glasses)

6 6 2

Tinnitus 5 6 n/a

Speech impediment 1 1 *

Any digestive/ progressive: 16 19

Diabetes 9 10 4

Stomach, liver, kidney
or digestive issue

4 5 4

Cancer 3 5 n/a

Dementia/Alzheimer’s 1 * n/a

Other progressive illness 2 2 2

Any mental illness: 7 8

Depression 6 6 5

Anxiety or bad nerves 3 2 n/a

PTSD/Combat stress 1 2 n/a

Other mental health problem 1 1 2

Any neurological: 1 1

Dementia/Alzheimer’s 1 * n/a

Epilepsy * 1 1

Any alcohol/drug: 1 1

Alcohol problems 1 1 n/a

Drug problems * * n/a

Any other illness: 3 3

Severe disfigurements,
skin condition, allergies

1 1 2

Chronic fatigue syndrome 1 1 n/a

Severe or specific
learning difficulties

* * 1

Gulf War Syndrome * * n/a

Asbestos-related * * n/a

Figure 3b. Current long-term illness/disability.
^Labour Force Survey, 2013, quarter 4.

Other variations in prevalence in reported illness tend to be related
to the age patterns discussed on the previous page. Dependent
widows are more likely to report some illness (two in three),
particularly musculoskeletal conditions, reflecting their age. Time
since military discharge also reflects differences by age. Higher
prevalence for those who are most deprived (e.g. income) is also
likely to reflect age, since older people are generally less well off.

Veterans are slightly more likely to report illness (57%) than their
spouses or partners (45%), possibly because they tend to be older,
but also because they may have an illness relating to their service.
Men are slightly more likely than women to report digestive or
progressive disorders (two in ten), and also sensory disorders
(two in ten), particularly hearing related.

Those who are divorced or separated are also more likely to report
some illness (two in three). Unlike widow(er)s, this group is most
likely to be aged 45-64, so this cannot be explained by the ageing
population. The divorced are more likely than average to report
musculoskeletal problems (four in ten) and they are over twice
as likely as average to report mental illness (two in ten).

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39HOW HE ALTHY IS THE E X-SERV ICE COMMUNIT Y?

28. All adults 16+ in UK, shorter list of conditions and some wording differences, but broadly comparable.
29. All aged 16+. Same question asked. The England and Wales data among the ex-Service community is no different from the total data,

so it is appropriate to make a comparison.

Comparisons with the UK population
Compared with all UK adults in the fourth quarter of the 2013 Labour
Force Survey,28 the ex-Service community is more likely to report a
number of conditions, particularly musculoskeletal, cardiovascular
and respiratory, sensory, and diabetes (fig. 3b). These differences
are largely explained by the older age profile: since older people are
more likely to have a long-term illness or disability, this increases
the overall prevalence in the ex-Service community. If the age
profile of the ex-Service community is matched to the UK profile,
most of these overall differences from the UK average disappear.

This, however, disguises some more subtle differences within age
group. A full comparison broken down by age is given in fig. 6v in
Appendix 6. Those aged 65 or over in the ex-Service population,
and particularly those aged 75+, are less likely to report the majority
of conditions compared with the UK population of the same age.
This suggests that the retired ex-Service community enjoy better
health than is average for the UK.

In contrast, those aged 35-64 in the ex-Service community are more
likely to report musculoskeletal problems, sensory problems (both
hearing loss and sight problems) and depression, compared with
the UK population of the same age. While most of those aged 16-34
do not have any health problems, among the ex-Service community
there is a higher prevalence of problems with arms and feet and
hearing problems compared with this age group across the UK.
Veterans aged 16-74 are around three and a half times more likely to
report hearing problems (7%) than UK adults of the same age (2%).

Compared with the UK adults aged 16-64, those in the ex-Service
community of working age and, in particular, veterans aged 16-64,
are more likely to report musculoskeletal problems, cardiovascular
problems, sensory problems, diabetes and depression (see fig. 6vi
in Appendix 6 ). The greatest differences are:

• Problems with legs and feet: 15% vs 7%

• Problems with back or neck: 14% vs 7%

• Problems with arms or hands: 9% vs 5%

• Heart problems: 12% vs 7%

• Depression: 10% vs 6%

• Diabetes: 6% vs 3%

• Difficulty hearing: 6% vs 2%

• Difficulty seeing: 5% vs 1%

These findings clearly indicate specific health support needs
for the working age ex-Service community, particularly veterans.
These differences from the national average are similar to those
that emerged from the 2005 TRBL research.

Limitations on day-to-day activities
While over half report some current long-term illness or disability,
this does not necessarily limit their day-to-day activities. Six in ten of
those with any condition say it does, which is a third of the ex-Service
community, equivalent to around 1,690,000 people (fig. 3c).

Adult ex-Service community UK
adults^

With illness/
disability

All ‘000s

% % 4,920 %

Yes, at all 58 34 1,690 21

Yes, a lot 25 14 700 10

Yes, a little 33 20 990 11

Figure 3c: Whether day-to-day activities limited by health or disability.
^Source: Census 2011.

The likelihood of reporting some health-related limit on day-to-day
activity increases with age, in line with greater reporting of illness
or disability, and the nature of that illness for older people. Almost
half of those aged 75 or over (46%) say they are limited by their
health, with three in ten saying it limits them a lot.

Other differences also reflect the patterns of reported long-term
illness, with prevalence higher for the widowed and divorced,
and for those with lower household income.

Compared with the adult population in England and Wales from the
2011 Census,29 the ex-Service community are more likely to have
an illness or disability that limits their daily activities, although the
difference is greatest for those whose activities are limited only a
little (fig. 3d overleaf).

This higher prevalence is linked to the older age profile of the ex-
Service community: if they had the same age profile as the UK, this
difference would no longer be apparent.

Within the ex-Service community, however, those aged 16-64 are
more likely to report some limiting illness, and those aged 65+ less
likely to do so compared with the England and Wales population
(fig. 3d). There is a slightly greater difference between dependants
aged 65+ (who are largely women) and the population of UK
women aged 65+.

In summary, the working age ex-Service community reports poorer
health than the UK population as a whole.

Page 112

REGISTERED CHARITY NUMBER: 219279

THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION
HAIG HOUSE

199 BOROUGH HIGH STREET
LONDON SE1 1AA

T: 020 3207 2100
WWW.BRITISHLEGION.ORG.UK

Front cover image: Alison Baskerville

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