Care Home Spaces Becoming Increasingly Limited
The steadily rising ageing population in the UK is increasingly resulting in a greater demand on care providers and facilities: in short, spaces in care homes are like gold dust. Dundee County Council, for example, has recently announced a 15% fall in the number of available spaces in its residential care homes and this is a trend which is likely be echoed nationwide over the next few years.
Full to Capacity
Because so many care homes are full to capacity, more and more families are really struggling to find high-quality care for their vulnerable relatives. Lots of homes are shutting their doors, and those that remain are under mounting financial pressure, leading to justified fears among those in the industry that this shortage is likely to worsen. Some homes only offer a space if the resident is prepared to share a room, which is clearly unsuitable or undesirable for many older people.
Long Waiting Lists
Popular private care homes are reporting waiting lists of up to three years, highlighting the very real need to look ahead and start planning for the potential future needs of your older relative.
Impact of Legislation
New legislation dictating a new minimum standard that must be met by all care homes has also increased the burden on owners, who now need to ensure their facilities make the grade. The requirement to install high-cost items such as lifts and tick off other criteria, including wider doors and larger rooms, is leading to the closure of a number of smaller care homes, who simply can’t afford to make the required alterations.
A Perfect Storm
This perfect storm of care home closures, increasing fees and a shortage of available places means that it is often extremely challenging for older people to locate a room that meets their needs at a rate they can afford.
Struggling Local Authorities
This situation is being exacerbated by the fact that, in many areas of the UK, local authority funding simply isn’t at a high enough level to allow care homes to operate at a profit. These cuts have ramped up demand for places at private facilities – which are unsurprisingly struggling to meet demand.
With places at private care homes at such a premium, it is clear that it is now absolutely essential to take the long view and start planning how you will access care for your loved ones in the future. Putting together a plan early on should help to ensure that when the time comes that your loved one needs residential care, they will retain some choice about how they wish to be accommodated, thus retaining their dignity at what can be a difficult time of transition.