Are care homes at risk of losing bed space?

Are care homes at risk of losing bed space?

According to a report published by property experts Knight Frank, Britain could lose almost a third of care home beds over the next five years. It is estimated 6,500 properties are ‘not fit for purpose’ and without new investment approximately 140,000 beds are at risk of closure.

The North-Eat and North Yorkshire have already reportedly lost 1,299 beds between 2017 – 2020 and hundreds more are now at risk since the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially concerning given that the UK has an aging population which is only increasing demand for bed space.

At present there is not enough capacity and there is a structural under-provision of beds in the social care sector. Without £15bn to future proof the care home market, we could face a national bed crisis imminently.

How has COVID impacted care home beds?

The pandemic has only increased scrutiny on those buildings that are deemed ‘not fit for purpose’ which in turn has highlighted a lack of funding available for reinvestment into existing care homes. The sector is facing the perfect storm and the coronavirus crisis has only increased the financial burden on many care homes.

To make matters worse, the negative publicity around the safety of residents has encouraged more families to keep their older relatives at home. As a result, care home occupancy fell from a pre-pandemic average of 87% to a low of 79% in June 2020.

What is the future of care homes?

Concerns around the financial stability of many care homes were raised before the pandemic hit and increased cost of PPE and lower occupancy rates have only made matters worse. The properties that are most at risk of shutting are smaller independent and older properties, with little or no profit to reinvest in upgrades and operating costs.

Once the COVID pandemic resolves, we will likely see changes around how operators manage their estates and the types of care home developments being undertaken. Care home designs will most likely include materials that can withstand heavy cleaning or have antibacterial qualities and we will probably see more care homes adopting smart technology.

The good news is investment into the sector is anticipated to remain strong, especially as demand for bed space increases.

How can care homes respond to this crisis?

Around 80% of care homes are more than 40 years old and as a result many operators are considering how to upgrade their existing portfolio.  Refurbishment will remain vital along with new developments to keep up with the long-term demand.

As we begin to emerge from the pandemic there is an opportunity to build something positive from the devastation of the last year – We can look to build something more sustainable and resilient.

There are opportunities with care home refurbishments to not only increase revenue from upgraded stock, but to also reduce capital expenditure through improved operational and energy efficiency. This is particularly relevant given most care homes are under financial pressure – if cleverly managed, there is a potential to claw back monies spent on upgrades from savings delivered from better building performance.

However, it takes a specialist team to really understand how all the components of a refurbishment scheme tie in together to provide true value for money long after a project is completed. This is why we work closely with our supply chain – we can help our clients source the best quality and environmentally friendly materials, appoint the right design team, consultants and suitable energy and engineering specialists.

Let’s chat

Care home providers are often constrained to tight budgets and refurbishments are typically undertaken whilst buildings are occupied. It takes an experienced Contractor to meet the unique needs of a care home development and it is important to work with companies that have a detailed understanding of the sector.

We work alongside various suppliers, consultants and subcontractors that work in the care home sector. This enables us to source reliable materials, outsource expert advice on energy and engineering efficiency, and to locate suitable subcontractors that can deliver high-quality projects, on time and within budget.

If your care home is in need of refurbishment works, speak to us today on 0117 967 5923 or email