Which? warns of care home capacity crisis

care home nurse

The majority of councils in England face a potential shortfall in care home places by 2022, according to Which? research.

The consumer body has warned nine in 10 councils may have not have enough places to meet demand unless urgent action is taken.

Which? Managing Director of Public Markets Alex Hayman 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.”

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Fourteen areas could face a shortfall of 25% of more with an estimated 42,000 extra care home beds required, Which? found.

Bracknell Forest in Berkshire is set to experience the biggest shortfall with 53% more care places needed by 2022 than are currently available. Lewisham (48%), Harringey (38%), Hartlepool (35%) and Milton Keynes (33%) are also predicted to fall significantly short without extra provision.

On the plus side, a number of councils are expected to have a surplus of beds. Bexley is estimated to have 26% more places than demand is expected to require by 2022, while Peterborough (17%), Stoke-on-Trent (14%) Portsmouth (13%) and Trafford (10%) are also expected to exceed demand.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “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.”

Which? is launching a campaign calling for the CMA’s inquiry into the care home market to go beyond immediate issues around quality, fees and complaints, recognising that the national picture masks huge differences at a local level.

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