The long-term decline in the UK care home sector has come to an end with demographic change set to drive steady growth over the next decade, market analyst Laing and Buisson has said.
Its annual survey of the UK market for the care of older people, published today, found that overall capacity in the sector had risen for the first time since 1996, with a rise from 467,400 to 472,600 places from 2008-9. In 1996, the figure stood at 571,300.
Demand was relatively unchanged from 2008-9, with 419,000 places occupied, however this marked the end of a 15-year decline. Laing and Buisson projected that the number of occupied places would increase to 424,000 by 2014 and 459,000 by 2019, due to the ageing population.
Rise in self-funding
People funding their own care accounted for 41% of the market in 2009, up from 39% in 2008 and 31% in 2002, while councils’ share fell to 52% in 2009 from 55% last year.
Laing and Buisson said it expected self-funders’ market share to keep on rising as the rate of home owner occupation among older people at risk of entering care homes continued to grow.
The findings also reflect the growing number of people becoming eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, with the NHS funding 7% of the care home market in 2009, up from 6% in 2008.
Council fees just above inflation
The survey also found that baseline fee increases paid by councils to care homes increased by 2.6% in 2009, just above Laing and Buisson’s estimate of the rise in costs (2%-2.5%).
However, it warned that this could be the “calm before the storm” for the care home sector, with the planned downturn in public spending from 2011-12 onwards presenting a “real risk” of sub-inflationary increases in fees from councils.
It said this would hit care homes with a large proportion of state funding though those which received a large degree of private funding would fare better.