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Care home resident numbers remain static despite elderly population rise

Despite an 11% rise in the number of people aged over 65 between 2001 and 2011 in England and Wales, the number of care home residents has hardly changed.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) around 291,000 people were living in care homes in 2011, which is only 1,000 more than a decade earlier.

Meanwhile, the population aged 65 and over has risen from 8.3 million to 9.2 million during this period.

The ONS report attributes this to the fact that elderly people are able to remain independent at home for longer due to factors such as improved population health and the increase in unpaid carers.

Healthcare Property Consultants director Ian Wilkie, however, said that this is more likely to be down to a shortage in care homes.

"There were 26,000 less beds in 2011 than in 2001. That is as a consequence of loss of capacity due to lack of funding, attrition of obsolete properties and lack of development finance to replace them. It led to people being left at home and receiving inadequate 15 minute home care visits that have been so widely reported recently," he said.

The ONS data also revealed that during this decade the gender divide in care home residents also narrowed.

In 2011 there were 2.8 women for every man aged 65 and over; in 2001 there was a ratio of 3.3 women to each man.

The statistics highlight that the number of men living in care homes has risen by 15% over the decade while the number of women has decreased by 4.2%.

This has been put down to an increasing number of single households, according to experts, as single men are more likely to go into a care home.

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Posted on: 04/08/2014

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