Analysis of care home data across England reveals that 87% of councils won’t have enough places to meet potential demand by the end of this parliament.
The shortfall is predicted to be particularly bad in 14 local authority areas, half of which are London boroughs, according to campaign group Which?. Its research suggests these areas could face a 25%+ shortfall in the number of care home places needed.
Which? found that Bracknell Forest, in Berkshire, is set to see the biggest shortfall with 53% more care places needed by 2022 than are currently available. Lewisham (48%), Haringey (38%), Hartlepool (35%) and Milton Keynes (33%) are also predicted to fall short in providing enough places in five years’ time.
However, there are a small number of council areas that are likely to see a surplus in the number of care home beds they provide. Bexley is estimated to have 26% more places than anticipated demand by 2022, while Peterborough (17%), Stoke-on-Trent (14%) Portsmouth (13%) and Trafford (10%) are also expected to exceed demand.
Overall the research – which compared elderly care bed counts with what would be provided if the current trend continues – suggested there will be an estimated shortfall of 42,000 elderly care home beds in England by 2022.
As such, it said urgent action must be taken to address the problem though it is understood that it can take up to seven years to plan, build and open a new care home.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an inquiry into care homes and Which? is calling for it to make strong recommendations to the government to tackle this issue.
Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, 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.”
Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said: ‘This research is yet more evidence of a social care system which is straining at the seams as the ageing population continues to grow.’
Responding to research, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“These findings reinforce our warning about the urgent need to reform adult social care and deliver a long-term sustainable solution that delivers a range of high quality care and support for the growing numbers of people who will need it.
“While the £2 billion announced in the Spring Budget for social care was a step in the right direction, it is only one-off funding and social care services still face an annual £2.3 billion funding gap by 2020. But councils need to be given the freedom and flexibility to spend the additional funding for social care in the places where they feel it will be most effective.
“It is absolutely critical that the Government uses the Autumn Budget to bring forward its consultation for social care announced in the Queen’s Speech, and that it works with local government leaders in delivering a long-term sustainable solution for social care. To tackle the problems we face tomorrow, we must start planning today.
“This must address the issue of long-term funding, but it must also create the conditions necessary to ensure the development of the right kind of care and support services, that can meet the demand of an increasing number of adults with care needs.”