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Local analysis of elderly care beds

Population change

Population trends have long been pointing towards a radical shift in the age structure in the UK. The so called ‘ageing’ population can be clearly observed in the most recent Office for National Statistics population projections (based on 2014) [1]. 55.6m people were estimated to live in England in 2017, with this projected to rise to 57.6m in the five years to 2022 – a growth of 4%. Those aged 80 or over will see much stronger growth from 2.7m to 3.1m  (13%).

Furthermore, these population composition shifts are not expected to be uniform across local areas. Six local authorities (upper tier) are predicted to increase their population of residents aged 80 or over by 20% or more (Kensington and Chelsea +25%, Rutland +23%, Milton Keynes +22%, Telford and Wrekin +22%, Wigan +20%, Warrington +20%). There are just three local authorities expected to have the same or fewer people aged 80+ (City of London -25%, Barking and Dagenham -2%, and Isles of Scilly 0%)

Care home beds

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) publish detailed data on care homes in England including the numbers of beds provided in elderly care homes going back to 2012 [2]. We have aggregated these numbers up to 151 Local Authority areas [3] to give us an indication of the variation in supply of elderly care beds. (Please note we do not have data on actual occupancy of those beds, nor do we know to what extent there is contention for those beds by people in need of elderly care).

2017 CQC data shows there were 407,000 elderly care beds across England, up by 2.5% (from 397,000) in 2012. If we extrapolate the simple linear trend from these five years across the next five years for each local authority (up to 2022), we would expect there to be a total of 416,000 beds in 2022, a growth of 2.1%.

Again, there is wide variation at the local level, with 20 local-authority areas on course to lose more than 10% of their elderly care beds and about the same number set to gain more than 10% of their existing beds, based on the trend from the last five years.

Combining beds and population projections

In order to see how expected future population changes might affect the numbers of local care home beds required, we calculated how many would be required in each Local Authority up to 2022 to maintain the current level of provision, based on the proportion of the local population aged 80 or over in each year. This change was then turned into a percentage of the existing number of beds in 2017.

In other words, we estimated the change in elderly care home beds provision required (at a local-authority level) to maintain supply at the current rate for each year, based on the proportion of population aged 80 or over. The results are displayed in the visualisation below.

This shows that, by 2022, the vast majority of areas will need to increase supply of elderly care beds, with only 20 of the 150 areas on track to keep up with likely demand. 130 would have to increase provision, and 14 areas (half of which are London boroughs) will need to increase their current number of beds by 25% or more. Bracknell Forest, in Berkshire, is set to see the biggest shortfall with 53% more care places needed by 2022 than are currently available. Lewisham (48%), Haringey (38%), Hartlepool (35%) and Milton Keynes (33%) are also projected to fall significantly short in providing enough places in five years’ time, if the rate of extra provision isn't increased.

Overall the analysis suggests that a further 42,000 beds will be required in 2022 across the whole of England, over and above what current trends indicate will be provided. This is 10% higher than the level implied by extending the trend in provision from the previous five years (from 2012 to 2017).

Annual data on numbers of beds supplied (projected from the previous five-year trend) and bed numbers required to keep pace with potential demand (based on those aged 80 or over from ONS 2014 population projections) are shown for each Local Authority in the graph below.

Reference table


[1]. Office for National Statistics: 2014 based population projections

[2]. Care Quality Commission: Active locations for providers registered under the Health and Social Care Act (2012-2017)

[3]. CQC care homes data did not show any active providers of elderly care within the City of London, this local authority has therefore been excluded from our analysis

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