Recent research commissioned by BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme found that up to 3,000 elderly people will not be able to get beds in UK care homes by the end of next year.
The simple fact is that with an aging population, and fewer net beds being made available in the private sector, we are clearly going to have a shortfall moving forward. Despite reports suggesting that, given the choice, most people would choose to die in their own homes, there still appears to be no real cohesion between nursing and social care.
The statistics show that in the past three years 21,500 care beds have closed in the UK. Clearly there have been many replacements but it is a staggering statistic. The concern is that with the lack of beds available there will be more pressure on the NHS, as elderly people are admitted to hospital because they cannot cope at home. The Government estimation is that this already costs the NHS in England £900 million per year.
Home care agencies are growing and the Department of Health constantly mentions that it has provided an extra £2 billion over the next three years to maintain access for the growing aging population, as well as to put the social care sector on a sustainable footing for the future. It would appear that the only people that believe that that is sustainable is the Government, as the numbers currently just do not stack up. The only certainty is that demand will continue to increase and a solution needs to be found.