The office of national statistics (ONS) has today released statistics on the changes in the older resident care home population during the period 2001-2011
The key points are:
- The care home resident population for those aged 65 and over has remained almost stable since 2001 with an increase of 0.3%, despite growth of 11.0% in the overall population at this age.
- Fewer women but more men aged 65 and over, were living as residents of care homes in 2011 compared to 2001; the population of women fell by around 9,000 (-4.2%) while the population of men increased by around 10,000 (15.2%).
- The gender gap in the older resident care home population has, therefore, narrowed since 2001. In 2011 there were around 2.8 women for each man aged 65 and over compared to a ratio of 3.3 women for each man in 2001.
- The resident care home population is ageing: in 2011, people aged 85 and over represented 59.2% of the older care home population compared to 56.5% in 2001.
As health almost inevitably declines during the later stages of life, one area of particular importance is the provision of care for the elderly. Care can take a number of forms from hospital treatment for acute medical conditions through to residential care homes and unpaid care by relatives and/or friends. The provision of unpaid care has been the focus of a number of ONS census analyses.
This analysis focuses on the changes in the over 65 resident care home population of England and Wales. This age group represents most of the care home population: 82.5% in 2011. Analysis of the characteristics of older people, based on census data, has been the focus of two recent reports:
- What does the census tell us about older people?
- What does the census tell us about the oldest old living in England and Wales?
Improvements in population health, for example, increasing disability-free life expectancy, could contribute to the increasing age of the population in England and Wales. However, the increasing age of the population means that in the future, more people will require some form of care during their lives. It is also important to note, that the level of required care could become more intensive, since the oldest old (those aged 85 and over) are more vulnerable to conditions requiring high levels of support.
In response to today’s ONS statistics on changes in the older resident care home population between 2001 and 2011 (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census-analysis/changes-in-the-older-resident-care-home-population-between-2001-and-2011/rpt—changes-in-the-older-resident-care-home.html)Chief Executive of Independent Age, Janet Morrison, said:
“As ONS suggests, it is likely that some families are putting off the decision for a relative to go into a care home because of the cost, particularly as councils are less likely to pay for it as their budgets reduce. Even more worryingly, council-funded support for elderly people at home is also falling meaning that, if they do put off admission to a care home, families will often have to purchase or provide the care at home themselves. Though the proposed cap on care costs will benefit some people, and is welcomed, the reality is still that the cost of care is a shock for which most people are unprepared.”
Malcolm McLean, senior consultant, Barnett Waddingham also commented:
“It is interesting to note from the figures released by the ONS this morning that there has been little change in the numbers requiring residential care over a ten year period – despite a much larger increase in the population in this age bracket as a whole..
“We must not, however, be lulled into a false sense of security by this fact. There are some warning signs to suggest that the demands for residential care provision are likely to significantly increase over the next decade and beyond.
“There is a clear indication that the population in residential care is ageing. In 2011, people aged 85 and over represented 59.2% of the older care home population compared to 56.5% in 2001.
“The gender gap in the older resident care home population has also significantly narrowed.. In 2011 there were around 2.8 women for each man aged 65 and over compared to a ratio of 3.3 women for each man in 2001.
“Meeting the needs of an ageing population is one of the biggest challenges we face in the 21st century. Providing and paying for residential care have to be a priority for which we as a society may not be yet sufficiently prepared.”