Care home provision heading for crisis in next five years

New research by Which? has found that the majority of local authorities could experience a shortfall in care home places by 2022 if the current underfunding continues.

The comparison website found that 87 per cent of English councils responsible for providing social care may not have enough places to meet potential demand of five years time, with 14 areas facing a shortfall of 25 per cent or more in the number of care home places needed by the same year. This translates to a care home bed shortfall of roughly 42,000.

Broken down regionally, Bracknell Forest in Berkshire is set to experience the biggest shortfall with 53 per cent more care places needed by 2022 than are currently available. This is closely followed by Lewisham (48 per cent), Haringey (38 per cent), Hartlepool (35 per cent) and Milton Keynes (33 per cent).

In contrast, the study also found that a small minority of areas could experience a surplus of care home beds. Bexley is estimated ti have 26 per cent more places than demand is likely to require by 2022, while Peterborough (17 per cent), Stoke-on-Trent (14 per cent) Portsmouth (13 per cent) and Trafford (10 per cent) are also expected to exceed demand.

Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets, said: “It’s heart-breaking that families who have no choice but to put 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 Competition and Markets Authority looks at the potentially huge local disparities in provision, which could reach crisis point if nothing is done.”

Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGAs Community Wellbeing Board, said: “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.”

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