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Care homes may run out of places by 2022, research shows

The care home market may not have enough places to help older people in need by the end of this Parliament, new research suggests.

Almost nine in 10 councils across England could see a shortfall in care home places by 2022, new analysis shows.


Which has warned of an impending shortfall in care home places for older people. Picture: iStock

The shortage will be particularly acute in some parts of the country, with 14 regions needing to increase their current number of care home beds by more than 25%, analysis by the consumer champion Which finds.

According to the research, 87% of councils responsible for providing social care may not have enough places to meet potential demand by 2022.

The analysis of how population changes may affect elderly care beds found only 20 of the 150 councils in England are on track to keep up with likely demand.

This means the remaining 130 will need to increase provision.

Regional differences

Which found Bracknell Forest, in Berkshire, is set to see the biggest shortfall with 53% more care places needed by 2022.

Lewisham, Haringey, Hartlepool and Milton Keynes are also projected to fall significantly short in providing enough places in five years' time.

But a small number of councils will see a surplus in the number of beds needed, including Bexley, Peterborough, Stoke-on-Trent, Portsmouth and Trafford.

Overall the analysis suggests a further 42,000 beds will be required in 2022 across the whole of England.

Crisis point

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a study in December last year looking at whether the residential care homes sector is working well for elderly people and their families.

Which managing director of public markets Alex Hayman said: 'It's heart-breaking that families who have no choice but to move a relative into care, then have the additional stress of not knowing if they can find a space in a suitable home that's close to loved ones.

'It is vital that the CMA looks at the potentially huge local disparities in provision, which could reach crisis point if nothing is done.'

Quality of care

Independent Age chief executive Janet Morrison said: 'This research is yet more evidence of a social care system that is straining at the seams as the ageing population continues to grow. We know there are already many older people and their families who are struggling to find a good quality care home.'

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'High quality care isn't just about care home beds – 61% of people are cared for in their own home and since 2010 there has been a growth in home care agencies of more than 3,000 - a 53% increase.

'We've given local authorities in England an extra £2 billion boost over the next three years to maintain access for our growing ageing population and to put the social care sector on a sustainable footing for the future.'

Further information

Which analysis of local elderly care beds 


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