Rate of care home closures in England

February 18, 2020

CSI Market Intelligence has released its annual report looking at the rate of care home closures in England, revealing that in 2019, the market saw two care home closures for every opening.

In its fifth annual report, Say hello, wave goodbye – openings and closures of care homes for older people 2019, CSI Market Intelligence has also found that homes were opened where they weren’t required and closed where there was already a shortage of beds.

The author, Mike Short says, ‘Whilst demand increases within the growing 75 plus population, for the fourth time in five years, we have had to report on a sizeable loss in the number of beds available. But the real problem is that local supply has for some time been very fragmented, with some areas hosting too many care homes, and others becoming care deserts, and the situation is getting worse and not better.’

Only one of the nine regions assessed in the report has not lost any beds. The North East boasted a 0.2% increase in the number of beds, but that same region already has the highest supply levels across the country, at nearly 20% above national average. The biggest loser of beds was London, even though it has around 30% below national average supply levels.

According to the report, of the 20 local authorities that gained the most beds, 10 were already over-supplied; at the other end of the scale 12 out of the 20 local authorities that lost the most beds were already under-supplied.

Mike says, ‘At one end of the scale, we are seeing sparkling new developments creating, rather than solving, problems by adding to the pressure to existing providers with occupancy levels and the ability to employ enough care staff, whilst at the other end, homes are closing in increasingly barren areas. In this situation, how local commissioners can offer a choice of local care facilities to their clients is hard to imagine.’

The public sector saw the biggest drop in the number of care home beds. Despite having an already shrinking 2% market share, this sector lost 6.6% of its beds, compared to around 0.3% in both the private and not-for-profit sectors.

While the reasons for these closures are varied, the report asks whether poor care quality is a contributing factor, with 29% of closing homes having an Inadequate Care Quality Commission rating, and roughly the same with a Requires Improvement rating. However, 42% of homes that closed in 2019 did so with a Good care rating, and this was nearer 50% for residential homes.

Mike says, ‘It can therefore be assumed that up to a half of all closures were down to commercial reasons, rather than care quality. Either way, because of closures, up to 7,700 vulnerable older people had to be displaced, and probably a similar number of registered managers, registered nurses, care and ancillary workers having to look for a new job, possibly outside social care.’

The report on the rate of care home closures in England can be accessed for free on the CSI Market Intelligence website.

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