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Supply of UK Care Home Beds Fails to Keep up With Demand

The UK healthcare sector has seen stifled supply growth in care home beds in the past year despite ever-increasing demand, with data from Knight Frank revealing that UK care home supply has grown by only 6% in the last decade, while the UK’s over 65 population has increased by 22% over the same period.

Knight Frank’s annual UK Healthcare Development Opportunities 2021 research report shows that total care home beds across the UK grew by 0.1% in the past year to 480,072 across 12,034 care homes. This is largely attributable to developers pausing operations to deal with the impacts of the pandemic.

The limited growth in new stock, far outstripped by the growth in the over 65 population, is coupled with concerns around the quality of existing units. Older care homes are often converted from other use and many fail to provide adequate facilities for elderly residents. According to Knight Frank, 29% of existing beds lack en-suite facilities, an essential component of care provision, and 21% of UK homes are currently rated by the CQC as “requires improvement” or “inadequate”.

Furthermore, Knight Frank expects to see an uptick in care home closures as the government concludes its year-long financial support package, which will result in a further shortage of beds.

However, the report also highlights a number of positive indicators which point to a bounce-back in quality care provision post-pandemic. An increase in vaccination rates among existing residents has seen a rebound in occupancy in the second quarter of this year, following a decline from 89% to 79% in the 12 months to April 2021.

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