An extra 71,000 care home beds are needed in the next eight years to cope with Britain’s soaring demand as people living longer face more health problems, according to a new study published in The Lancet this month.
The research by a team of academics at Newcastle University predicts there will be an additional 353,000 older people with complex needs by 2025, requiring tens of thousands more beds. The number of people needing round-the-clock help to feed and dress themselves is predicted to rise by 163,000.
The findings confirm that many people over the age of 65 are now living longer but with substantial care needs: in fact, for adults over 65 the number of years spend with substantial care needs has doubled between 1991 and 2011.
The paper’s lead author, Professor Carol Jagger from Newcastle University, said: “The past 20 years have seen continued gains in life expectancy but not all of these years have been healthy. This finding, along with the increased number of older adults with higher rates of illness and disability, is contributing to the current social care crisis.” Professor Jagger called for more prevention work to be done to make sure people get support early on.
Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said findings showed the “urgent need” to look at how care is funded. She added: “Unless a long-term sustainable solution is established to tackle significant sector pressures … [more people] will struggle to receive personal, dignified care.”
Andrew Dilnot, warden of Nuffield College at Oxford University and author of the 2011 Dilnot commission report into care funding, said: “Expenditure on the care of older people will need to increase substantially and quickly. It will be important to ensure that this expenditure is managed efficiently, and in particular that the boundary between health and care is well handled.”