It is a demographic fact that the UK is getting older. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures the total UK population in 2016 was at its largest ever at 65.6 million and is projected to reach 74 million by 2039. However, improvements in healthcare and lifestyles mean the population is not only growing, it is getting progressively older.
In 2016 18% of the total UK population were aged 65 and over (2.4% were aged 85 and over). That ratio is increasing and the ONS projects that by 2036 the number of those 65 or older will reach nearly 24% of the total UK population.
Increasing demand affects health and care sectors
This growth in the increasingly and inevitably vulnerable and dependent elderly isn’t the same in all areas of the UK, but what is clear is that this change in the balance in the population will require planning for the needs of the different age groups.
One obvious and urgent implication of such an ageing population is that the demand for suitable care – residential or nursing – will increase and this will have an impact on the downstream services provided by the NHS.
Research from LaingBuisson, the health and social care market intelligence provider, shows that care homes are going out of business at an ever increasing rate. 224 care homes closed between March 2016 and March 2017, amounting to more than 2,000 beds, adding to the already acute shortfall in care home places.
Hospitals buying care places to ease pressure on beds
In January this year Northampton General Hospital announced that it would spend £1m on care home places for people waiting to leave to ease pressure on beds. The council and hospital will share the cost of care home places for patients facing delays in being discharged, including those waiting for social care assessments. This too, although relieving the strain on the NHS, will add to the pressure on the care sector.
Selecting the right care provision
How then should people go about trying to find a good care home from what may be shrinking pool? Many national charities for the elderly provide useful information about what to look for when deciding what sort of residential care is best suited to an individual’s need. Shoosmiths has also published a brief guide to selecting residential care for the vulnerable elderly.
It is clear that it will be even more important, given increasing demand and potentially fewer choices available, to do your research into suitable homes that can provide a good standard of care. Even if it is only a short stay in care, as was the case with my client Peter Clarke’s mother Elsie, the need for increased scrutiny when care choices may be shrinking is now greater than ever.
How we can help
If you suspect that an elderly or vulnerable relative or friend has suffered harm as a consequence of physical, mental or financial abuse or neglect in a care home or nursing home our specialist teams here at Shoosmiths can offer advice and assistance.
Call our client service team on 03700 868 686 for a free initial consultation. We have experience in this type of claim and will be glad to discuss the options that are available to you.