24% of care providers could exit the market, so say the results of a National Care Association survey of independent care provider members. The very people the residential care sector relies on to provide high quality care are being squeezed to the point where many are considering an exit from the sector, which could create a serious bed shortage and have serious repercussions for the wider NHS.
The National Care Association predicts that – due to a £375 million black hole in state funding – such an exit could equate to the loss of 40,000 beds in the independent social care market, and the worsening of a bed-blocking crisis already in evidence across much of the NHS.
‘The chronic underfunding of social care by Local Authorities is prompting the systematic collapse of the independent social care market . . . which could, in turn, mean thousands of frail older people will not be able to access the care and support they need at a time when they are at their most vulnerable,’ says National Care Association Chairman, Nadra Ahmed OBE. ‘This will create a pathway into the NHS, which the State can ill afford, resulting in hospital admissions for non-acute conditions.’
The National Care Association points to a critical shortfall in average council funding of about 8% for a typical care home placement as the significant contributory factor in the likely exodus of care providers. This underfunding, together with the impact on Care Sector overheads of the introduction of the Living Wage from April next year, is seriously eroding the viability of many care home businesses.
Without increased funding from local councils in recognition of the true cost of care, the predicted market crash, the National Care Association believes, will spell the end of the road for many independent care homes . . . in short, under very real threat is a UK support service which is essential to local government and NHS care provision.