Care home development specialists Northstar have expressed disappointment that during the election campaigning and manifesto promises none of the main parties seem to have addressed the huge problem of getting new elderly care development moving more quickly, or in sufficient numbers, across the UK.
With the housing industry proving to be the main battleground with giveaways in Stamp Duty, help for first time buyers, and the right to buy being offered to housing association tenants, no suggestion of Government addressing the massive shortfall in care home accommodation can be heard.
Danny Sharpe, Director at NorthStar says: “The excellent report recently published by Healthcare Property Consultants (HPC) highlights a huge problem facing this country in the very near future. The fact that whilst we are building just over 6,000 new care home beds every year, there are over 5,500 beds closing. The market is basically treading water, only just keeping ahead of the current rate of attrition. HPC also highlight the well-documented ageing population growth (in the over 85’s), which is set to increase a staggering 74% from 1.63m to 2.84m over the next 15 years. If the current ratio of 1 in 5 over 85’s requiring care continues then we need to find an additional 242,000 beds over the next fifteen years. It is incredible that none of the main parties have sought to address this in their manifestos. All of the rhetoric has been around greater investment in the NHS but what is surely needed is a focus on finding ways to create more and better accommodation for the elderly population, be it extra care, independent living or in care homes.
“The net migration figures which dominated the early part of the election debates created a stir when various commentators talked of the need to house the equivalent of another Coventry every year based on current and future projections. When the growth in population is added to the figures showing the increasing lifespan of our existing population, the position does appear untenable. However, rather than continually throw resources – both land and money – into creating new 2, 3 and 4 bed houses all over the country, why are none of the parties addressing a more obvious alternative? If some resources and assistance were to be given to allow the market for aspirational, elderly lifestyle housing to compete at least on an even playing field with the volume house building market, then an alternative solution to the housing crisis may present itself.
“If there were sufficient unit numbers and attractive choices in the market for older people to choose to downsize to, then many of the much needed larger 3 and 4 bed family houses would become available onto the market. So many older people remain in the family home for too long – i.e. until the point they are unable to manage and end up having a fall or becoming too frail to cope on their own. At this point they have no alternative but to go into full time care accommodation. If there were some real choices available, financial incentives, and a campaign undertaken to extol the virtues of moving to independent living accommodation at an earlier age then larger houses would be freed up and many older people would end up living somewhere they have chosen to be, rather than in care having stayed too long in accommodation no longer suitable for them.”