How is the UK care home sector overcoming difficulties?
Times have been tough for the UK care home sector recently. Quality issues, a lack of stock and withdrawal of funding from operators in the public sector have all created problems. As a result, this is an industry that doesn’t currently have the best reputation and which is struggling to re-establish itself as a sector with high quality standards at its foundation. However, there are plenty of opportunities for evolution and the UK care home sector is starting to overcome the difficulties that have plagued it in recent years.
The major issues
A recent Competition and Markets Authority study into the sector identified two key issues that are presenting difficulties for UK care homes:
- A lack of stock
- Problems relating to consumer choices e.g. the need for more support in choosing the right care home and more protection for those already in care homes
However, while both of these are important it’s responding effectively to population change that is probably the most pressing issue. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of people in the UK aged 85+ is likely to grow by more than a third – from 1.5 million to 2 million – between now and 2025. The huge additional need that this could create in terms of care home stock is one of the biggest challenges that the sector now needs to respond to.
How is the care home sector overcoming difficulties?
Expanding the private sector
Currently, independent care homes make up around 95% of the sector. It’s here where there is the most potential for growth. In partnership with developers and construction sector businesses looking to enter the care homes market, there is already considerable activity with respect to finding new ways to create the necessary stock.
Creative thinking around available sites
A lack of appropriate sites for care home construction has proven difficult but a more creative approach can help to overcome this issue. For example, there may be a choice as to whether to buy an existing site or build brand new. The opportunity to purchase 1980’s and 1990’s purpose built homes at realistic prices has increased substantially in recent years and, in many cases, this may present a faster and more realistic alternative to building from scratch.
Raising standards within the sector
A large volume of care home sector stock is currently classified as sub-standard and this is a serious issue. Investment in capacity and developing existing properties to take into account residents with high dependency needs is already being planned for the next few years in order to try to boost standards in the industry.
Future proofing existing care homes
Many of those care homes that are reliant on state funded residents are simply not in a sustainable position, as that funding is shrinking by the year. In order to future proof their survival many in the sector are already looking towards more options for self-funded residents.
Although the care home sector currently faces challenges, steps are already being taken to start overcoming these. At RG Group we keep a finger on the pulse of development, especially in industries where construction opportunities exist.