Hartlepool care homes predicted to run out of places in next five years

Hartlepool care homes may not have enough places to help elderly people in the next five years, according to new research.
Hartlepool care homes may not have enough places to help elderly people in the next five years, according to new research.

Hartlepool care homes may not have enough places to help elderly people in the next five years, according to new research.

Almost nine in 10 councils across England could see a shortfall in care home places by 2022, new Which? analysis found.

According to the research, 87% of councils responsible for providing social care may not have enough places to meet potential demand by 2022.

The analysis of how population changes may impact on elderly care beds found only 20 of the 150 council areas are on track to keep up with likely demand.

This means the remaining 130 will need to increase provision.

Hartlepool, along with Lewisham, Haringey and Milton Keynes are projected to fall significantly short in providing enough places in five years' time.

While Bracknell Forest, in Berkshire, is set to see the biggest shortfall with 53% more care places needed by 2022, according to Which?

But a small number of councils will see a surplus in the number of beds needed, including: Bexley, Peterborough, Stoke-on-Trent, Portsmouth and Trafford.

Overall the analysis suggests a further 42,000 beds will be required in 2022 across the whole of England.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a study in December last year looking at whether the residential care homes sector is working well for elderly people and their families.

Which? is now calling on the CMA to also look at the projected local disparities in social care provision.

Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets at Which?, said: "It's heart-breaking that families who have no choice but to move a relative into care, then have the additional stress of not knowing if they can find a space in a suitable home that's close to loved ones.

"It is vital that the Competition and Markets Authority looks at the potentially huge local disparities in provision, which could reach crisis point if nothing is done."

Commenting on the research, Janet Morrison, chief executive of the older people's charity Independent Age, said: "This research is yet more evidence of a social care system which is straining at the seams as the ageing population continues to grow.

"While this alarming research shows the shortfall in care home places predicted by the end of this Parliament, we know there are already many older people and their families who are struggling to find a good quality care home."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "High quality care isn't just about care home beds - 61% of people are cared for in their own home and since 2010 there has been a growth in home care agencies of more than 3,000 - a 53% increase.

"We've given local authorities in England an extra £2 billion boost over the next three years to maintain access for our growing ageing population and to put the social care sector on a sustainable footing for the future."

A CMA spokeswoman added: "We are already aware of the need to ensure that future demand is met and that the investment is there to meet it.

"We raised these points in our care home update paper in June.

"These services are relied upon by vulnerable people and their families up and down the country - demand for all types of care is only going to increase, so it's vital that the necessary investment is there.

"We will address this further in our final report."