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More and more of us are getting older...

The last time the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) looked at changes in care home population was 2011.

This survey found that the number of care home residents aged 64 or over had remained almost stable since 2001, with an increase of 0.3%, despite growth of 11% in the overall population at this age.

Figures showed that, in 2011, fewer women but more men aged 65 and over were living in residential care homes than ten years earlier. And over that period, the population of women fell by around 9,000 (-4.2%), while the population of men increased by around 10,000 (15.2%).

This revealed that the gender gap in care homes had narrowed over the decade. In 2011 there were around 2.8 women for each man aged 65 and over compared to a ratio of 3.3 women for each man in 2001. This survey was interesting because it was one of the first to reveal the rising trend in our elderly population. In 2011 people aged 85 and over represented 59.2% of the older care home population compared to 56.5% in 2001.

A few years later ONS figures had to be amended to reflect this growing trend.

Their 2013 report revealed that the UK pension age population was (is) expected to grow by a third over the next 20 years.

Estimates showed that there would be 16.1 million people of pensionable age by 2037, compared to 12.3 million in 2012/3. And of this number, some 3.6 million should be over the age of 85… almost triple the figure in 2012/3.

Without any recent statistics, it’s hard to tell how this upward trend is currently impacting the care home sector.

But, taking as given the increase is ongoing/growing, it’s not hard to show how this huge increase in the number of elderly people is going to impact and already struggling care home sector.

With an increase in the number of homes closing or struggling due to reduced fee support - the impact of the living wage - the catastrophe facing the sector cannot, and should not, be underestimated.

Across the UK there are approximately 487,000 beds in 18,000 care homes. They are being pressurised by the huge reduction in ‘money’ local authorities now have at their disposal to pay towards those residents needing help financing care. And so, many homes are facing closure, charges for private residents are going up … and the number of beds are going down.

Although an anathema to many weaned on the premise that the state should provide for those needing care in their dotage, with the ‘state’ now abnegating responsibility … salvation for the ‘industry’ has to come from corporate and/or private sector.

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