71,000 extra care home places needed by 2025 to keep up with demand

The UK will need to make room for an additional 71,000 care home places by 2025 to keep up with growing demand, a new study has suggested.

Researchers at the University of Newcastle came up with the projection based on studying various figures related to social care and the ageing population in the UK.

It also found that there will be an additional 353,000 older people with substantial dependencies who require care and support by 2035.

The report, which was published in the Lancet, stated that women over the age of 65 can expect to spend the last three years of their lives in a care home or receiving help several times daily, when two decades ago this figure was 18 months.

Men will receive care for the last two-and-a-half years of their life, when compared to 20 years ago they could expect to spend just over a year in need of substantial care.

The findings also concluded that increasing life expectancy meant that people were spending longer living with higher levels of frailty.

It also went on to explain that far more frail people in need were likely to be cared for in the community than in a care home. Between 1991 and 2011, the percentage of adults aged 85 who required round the clock care living in a care home fell from 73.5% to 51.8%.

Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said that while it should be celebrated that people are living longer, the report highlighted that increased years of life are accompanied by increased years of need for social care.

“There has been a significant change in services since 1991,” she stated. “Older people with substantial dependencies are now more likely to live supported in the community.

“This report identifies both that by 2025, in England, 71,000 care home places will be needed and that there will be an additional 353,000 older people with substantial dependencies who will require care and support at home.”

Willcox added that if the trend of more people choosing to stay at home continued, the number requiring care at home could be significantly higher.

“This is further evidence that social care needs to be everyone’s concern and a national priority,” the ADASS president highlighted. “As most people expect to need some form of care in their lifetime, there is an urgent need for the whole country to consider how best to ensure people with care needs are supported how their care is funded.

She argued that unless a long-term sustainable solution is established to tackle significant sector pressures, “a rising number of elderly and disabled people living longer and with increasingly complex needs, along with their families and carers, will struggle to receive the personal, dignified care they depend on and deserve”.

“Further, how health and housing services, alongside social care, will be resourced and organised will determine both our ability to support vulnerable people but also their quality of life,” concluded Willcox.

Top Image: Matthias Zomer

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