Care home sector occupancy beginning to recover from COVID-19, says Knight Frank

Julian Evans

Care home occupancy is beginning to recover from the impact of COVID-19, according to a new report by Knight Frank.

The global property adviser’s latest research shows occupancy as of mid-August at 80.2% which is 8% below the pre-pandemic level but has also been increasing robustly since July as confidence levels improve within the sector.

Julian Evans, Head of Healthcare at Knight Frank, (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the very best of the UK’s healthcare sector, with outstanding collaboration between the private sector, social care sector and NHS at this time of need and the strength in controlling infection levels. Having scrambled exceptionally well given the lack of government support, the operators are now much more prepared for the potentially imminent risk of the second wave of the virus, with new procedures in place and higher volumes of PPE at their disposal.”

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Knight Frank’s research identifies a potential 6,500 care homes at risk of closure over the next five years, equating to 140,000 beds and estimated that the UK requires in excess of £15 billion to upgrade existing beds in order to future-proof for its ageing population. This comes as the share of people over the age of 80 is expected to surge in the next 30 years, with one in ten adults set to be over 80 by 2050, compared to one in 20 currently.

Julian added: “Despite the fantastic work of the UK healthcare sector, the pandemic has also unfortunately highlighted the lack of investment by successive governments into the sector, and therefore the urgent need to prioritise preventative and crisis funding. COVID-19 has merely accelerated trends to scrutinise those buildings that are not fit for purpose whilst emphasising the insufficient funding available for reinvestment into existing care homes, which has therefore expedited the number of potential care home closures. We are at a vital crossroads where we face a national bed crisis unless significant inward investment in the UK care home sector is made immediately.”

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