Extra 71000 care home places needed by 2025, Lancet study suggests – Alzheimer’s Society comments

As life expectancy increases, so too have the number of years that older adults spend with substantial care needs, suggests a study published today in The Lancet.

Life expectancy is now reaching an average of 3.0 years for women and 2.4 years for men aged over 65 according to a new analysis of care needs in 2011 compared to 1991.

While care is increasingly provided in the community by family and friends, the study warns that at current rates of provision, an additional 71000 care home places will be needed by 2025 in the UK.

The study compares levels of dependency in adults aged 65 years and over in England in 1991 and 2011 - 15000 adults in total. Adults were classed as high dependency if they required 24 hour care, medium dependency if they required care at regular times each day, low dependency if they required care less than daily, or independent.

The study is the first to analyse the extent to which the current care crisis is due to greater levels of dependency than in previous generations, rather than simply greater numbers of older people. It compared data on cognitive function and ageing in people aged 65 or over from three areas in England (Cambridgeshire, Newcastle and Nottingham). 7635 people were included in the study in 1991, and 7796 in 2011. Levels of dependency were assessed via interviews in their own home or a care home.

Rob Burley, Director of Policy at Alzheimer’s Society said:

'By 2025 there will be more than one million people living with dementia. They are the biggest users of the social care system and need a high level of support as the condition progresses.

'Yet we hear daily about how the system is unable to meet the needs of people with dementia – from being turned down by a care home, to facing extortionate costs for inadequate care. A social care system that is unable to fully meet the needs of people with dementia also places strain on the wider health system, with things such as delayed discharges from hospitals creating costs for the NHS as well as being detrimental to the health of a person with dementia.

'The Government and sector as a whole must act now to ensure we have future-proof plans to accommodate the enormous rise in demand. A new approach that recognises the needs of people with dementia is desperately needed.'