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Care homes – An Upward Trend Despite Everything that COVID Has Thrown at the Sector

CSI Market Intelligence has published Say Hello Wave Goodbye – Care Home Openings and Closures 2021, its 7th annual report and has surprisingly shown that, despite years of being in decline, the trend in care home beds is an increasing one despite everything that the last few years of turmoil.

Care home openings increased by 8% between 2019 and 2020, and by 12.5% between 2020 and 2021, whilst closures were lower in 2021 than in 2019. This means that a net loss of around 1,500 beds in 2019 has become a 440 bed growth in 2021.

Author Mike Short, who is director at CSI MI say “every year when we sit down to compile the data I peak at the numbers through a hand in front of my eyes, as I have been so used to report what is bad news when we see a reduction in care home beds as the 75 plus age sector grows so fast. This was especially the case this year, looking back on what must have been an arduous twelve months for all involved in the sector”

Care home closures still outnumber openings and continue to affect thousands of vulnerable people who lose their homes and have to be found new accommodation, and possibly lose the friends with who they have become so close.

“When one reads the reported precarious financial situation that so many care homes find themselves in,” continues Mike “closures are going to continue, and if anything increase unless anything changes drastically for the better, but at least investment in new larger locations means that that is still a supply of beds for those who need them”

On average a new home in 2021 was registered for 54 beds against 32 for those that closed, and there is an ongoing shift towards nursing dementia homes. Around one fifth of closures did so with an inadequate CQC rating (against one in fifty of all care homes) therefore implying care quality as the rationale for closure, whereas nearly half of closures were either rated good or outstanding (against around two thirds of all homes) which suggest commercial reasons for closure.

The report goes on to show that supply levels still vary greatly by local authority with areas of over supply and low occupancy levels, and areas low supply and a lack of choice for the public.

Mike says, “this has been the pattern throughout my time in this sector, and does not appear to be improving, in fact eight of the ten local authorities that have lost the highest percentage of beds since my reports began also show a higher than average forecast growth over the next five years, so the situation will become even more drastic than now, and are crying out for new developments to rectify this.”

The report can be accessed for free here.