Laing and Buisson: Care home decline set to end

The UK’s care home population looks set to rise over the next decade after falling year-on-year since 1993, research body Laing and Buisson has found.

Its annual report on the care market found the care population had fallen only slightly from 2006-7, from 421,000 to 420,000. The 1993 figure was 511,000, since when numbers have fallen year on year.

Laing and Buisson predicted numbers would fall slightly to 415,000 in 2012, but then rise significantly to 444,000 in 2017.

The fall over the past 14 years had been driven by councils looking for non-residential alternatives as well as a fall in the numbers of older people from 2001-4. However, with the proportion of people over 85 set to increase significantly over coming years, the report said care home numbers could only expand. 

In recent years, certain government pronouncements have suggested that ministers envisaged an ongoing decline in care home numbers with their emphasis on independent living for vulnerable adults and investment in alternatives such as extra care housing. Notably, the government called for social care users to be given a right to request not to live in residential care, in its 2005 adult care green paper, to the anger of care home representatives.

But the report’s author William Laing said: “There is a growing recognition that care homes form an essential part of the range of care services, and that they are not going to fade away in the face of alternative non-residential alternatives.”

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