A Newcastle University study claims that rapidly rising numbers of older people with substantial care needs will create a requirement for 71,000 extra care home places by 2025. The research – Is late-life dependency increasing or not?- was published in the Lancet on 15th August 2017

The study raises concerns about how the new places will be paid for and estimates that within four years £940 million will be required for social care in England. “If dependency prevalence remains constant, we estimate that by 2025 there will be an additional 353,000 older people with substantial care needs,” according to the project leader, Professor Carol Jagger. “While many of these people will live in the community, at current rates of provision this will mean a shortfall of more than 71,000 care home places by 2025. Our findings have considerable implications for relatives as older people will have complex needs, requiring sustained input from family carers or social care teams to support independent living.”

The number of years spent with substantial care needs for adults aged over 65 nearly doubled between 1991 and 2011, increasing from 1.1 to 2.4 years for men, and from 1.6 to 3 years for women. Sir Andrew Dilnot, a leading economist who led a government-commissioned review of social care funding, said spending on the care of older people would need to “increase substantially and quickly, although this increase does not mean that every individual will need large amounts of care.”

Commenting on the study, Nick Sanderson, CEO of Audley Retirement, said: “Britain’s ageing population brings with it significant societal challenges. High amongst the worries faced by this group is the question of later life living and the possibility of needing care.  Both the NHS and local authorities are struggling to cope with the mounting pressure and traditional care packages are coming under increasing strain. Many people would ultimately prefer to remain at home as they age so it’s crucial we facilitate the development of housing that allows them to do this. High quality retirement properties with care available as and when required prepares people for changes to their health whilst enabling them to maintain their independence. There may be no simple answer to how we deal with the creaking care system, but we know the retirement village model is one that works, and we have a responsibility to drive that forward.”