Social care 360: providers

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8. There are fewer residential and nursing home places available for older people

The number of beds available for people aged over 75 – the main users – has declined consistently in the past few years

Overall there are slightly fewer care beds available now compared to 2012, with a small increase in beds in nursing homes offset by a slightly larger decrease in beds in care homes.

Nursing homes differ from care homes in having registered nurses on site at all times.

This trend is clearer if we look at the availability of beds for the increasing numbers of older people as they make up an estimated 95 per cent of care and nursing home residents. These have declined from around 11.3 beds in care homes per 100 people aged 75+ to 10.1. Beds in nursing homes have shown a smaller decline.

The fall in bed availability may reflect the gradual change in social care policy, which has shifted towards providing care at home rather than in residential care. The reduction in people entering care homes is shown in indicator 16, though there is no reliable annual data on overall numbers of people receiving home care with which to substantiate an increase in service provision at home.

It is worth noting that these changes are very small compared to the longer-term trends. In 1996, there were more than 550,000 beds and Grant Thornton estimates that 25.2 per cent of the population aged 85+ was in elderly residential accommodation compared to 14.8 per cent in 2017.

There has also been a significant change in care home ownership in the past few decades: in 1984, 57 per cent of places were in local authority-run residential homes but by 2017 this had fallen to just 8 per cent.

Though there has been little change in the availability of beds, there have been some changes in the average size of care homes. The average number of beds in a care home has increased from 18.9 in 2012 to 20.5 in 2018, and the average nursing home has increased from 46.1 to 49.7 beds. Similarly, a Knight Frank survey found that homes that were closing had an average of 30 beds and those opening had 60 beds.

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D Harries

Age Cymru local branch . Ex Assistant Director L/A
Comment date
29 April 2019

Estimated no. of Older People in Residential care: These figures don't surprise me based on my experience in Wales. However, what reflects badly on our current, society is that the figure of 14.8% of over 85+is so high. ( I suspect that this figure is higher again in Wales) To me this reflects the limited availability of Supported housing per head of 85+ across the UK, and our need for the Government to get on with an increase in the Supported Housing building programme for both the good of the individual and the financial health of the nation.

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