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Urgent needed to keep care home beds

Blog Post 14 November 2017

‘Urgent action’ needed to keep care home beds

You can always (well, nearly always) rely on the good old BBC to tell it how it is.

Following on from this spring’s bleak headline ‘Social care system 'beginning to collapse' as 900 carers quit every day’ I was greeted the other day with ‘Care homes places ‘crisis’ in five years across England’.

I have images of Dad’s Army with Lance Corporal Jack Jones chanting ‘Don’t panic . . . don’t panic Captain Mainwaring’.

Indeed, someone needs to be shouting it, so it might as well be me.

Consumer groups, Which? says "urgent action" is needed because of a rising population of older people.

England has 407,000 care home beds but would need another 50,000 by 2022 to meet demand, according to the bulletin.

I find the figures fascinating. The research states almost nine tenths of England faces a "crisis" in care home places within five years.

Frankly, I’m amazed it will last that long, but the drive to keep people out of residential care settings is having a huge affect.

Surprisingly, Berkshire – that desirable up-market commuter haven on the Thames near London – is the one that alarms most with the Bracknell Forest area expecting the biggest shortfall, with 53% more care places needed by 2022 than were in place by 2017.

This is the area that includes Sandhurst and other posh places where, generally, money is not short. Perhaps would-be investors are just holding off . . .

The analysis of care home data across England indicates 87% of local authorities will not have enough places to care for more people aged 80 and over.

There were 407,000 beds across England in care homes for the elderly as of 2017 and this is expected to rise to 416,000 by 2022. However, Which? says to meet demand there would need to be almost 458,000 places.

What is noted – and I’m grateful for it – are the “huge local disparities” and Which? is urging the Government to take a long look at the emerging facts.

I don’t doubt those financially well endowed areas will eventually come good as they are not wholly reliant on Government. I do, however, continue to worry about those that are less financially blessed.

The culture of residential care is changing with homes developing a wider range of services. Let’s hope this much-needed transition is one that attracts investment and invention. Goodness knows, the sector needs both. Unchanged, our Government seems to be in dire straights trying to gain traction with the perennial thorny subject of paying for care now and in the future.

Debbie Le Quesne - CEO West Midlands Care Association