There is one thing we can all guarantee and that is ageing, we will get older and at some point be considering our options for our living situation. Perhaps it will be something already being considered for family members. There are so many choices available, care homes with assistance, un-assisted, and nursing homes. So where do you start and what is the longevity of these choices? Costs for example, everything is skyrocketing in price at the moment, so the cost has a large part to play in making these decisions.
Research suggests that by 2035 there will be a shortfall of 58,000 beds across the sector, whilst the growth in the UK’s older population is such that by 2050 an additional 350,000 older people will potentially need a care bed, almost doubling the level of bed demand in the next 30 years.
This projected bed capacity hiatus means that existing operators should benefit from an increase in occupancy as demand is set to outpace supply. However, various barriers stand in the way of allowing the sector to truly benefit from the increase in demand, potentially leaving people without the care and support they need.
On top of the supply issues, UK care home operators could see their costs rise by up to 30% this year due to issues including the increased costs of labour, supply and finance, which have compounded. It is at a crisis point and the future of the sector depends on how government bodies act in the next few years.
Supply and Demand
Care operators have been tested and appreciated over the last two years like never before, and the pandemic has only underlined the sector’s importance. It has always been indispensable in our society as demand for beds and quality care continues to grow with our population, but with this newfound appreciation in the national dialogue, there has been increasing interest from institutional capital and continued investor appetite. This means that there are opportunities for operators to innovate in order to meet growing and evolving demands.
Day-in, day-out, responsibility for the health and well-being of many of the most vulnerable elderly members of UK society is entrusted to 5,500 different provider organisations across the UK’s £16bn care homes sector, operating 11,000-plus care homes, with more than 400,000 residents.
Historically, residential care settings have always presented significant challenges to those in charge of establishing and implementing appropriate protocols and good practices in on-site risk management, safety culture, cleanliness, hygiene management and infection prevention and control.
The pandemic has shown that care in our country is not a system and that no one is in charge, yet every day millions of older people rely on good care, joined up with good healthcare, to stay alive, happy and well, and their families trust governing bodies to provide it. To promise that help will be there for all from ‘cradle to grave’, but during this pandemic, it has fallen way short of that so far as thousands of older people are concerned, who have suffered grievously as a result.
Care has been through the fire and surely we can all agree that such a catastrophe should never be allowed to happen again. Far-reaching change, plus the funding to match, cannot be put off any more. While we’re still somewhat in the midst of a pandemic that’s inflicting so much sadness, suffering and loss, it’s important we take a step back now to consider the future of care for older people. It’s worth remembering, after all, that crises can often illuminate important factors that were always there but less visible in more normal times.