Shortage of care home beds in Devon – except for the rich, of course

Too ill to be cared for at home or in community-bedless Devon? Tough.

But no worries for the rich in their luxurious “assisted living” apartments in places like Pegasus in Sidmouth and Millbrook Village in Exeter!

And even there no use having beds if there are no carers to take care of people post-Brexit.

“Devon and the South West is heading for a major shortfall in care home beds, a leading property expert has warned.

The region will need to create 1,350 beds a year to offset closures and pressures from an ageing population.

Anthony Oldfield, director at property consultancy JLL, which has an office in Exeter, said: “Even before we take into account the impact of bed closures, the care home sector needs to double the delivery of new beds. Demand for private pay stock set to increase across all regions of the UK, not just the wealthy prime markets, as a result of historic house price growth and no change in the threshold for publicly funded care since 2010.

“The election showed what an emotive subject social care and how it is going to be funded can be. But it is essential that the government reaches a sustainable solution as to how social care is to be funded in a way that doesn’t pass the burden to a shrinking working age population.”

JLL estimates that there will be a shortfall of nearly 3,000 care home beds in 2018 based on the current development pipeline and anticipated increase in demand due to growing demographics in the UK.

Just within the South West, the forecasts suggest a need for an extra 15,100 beds by 2026, or roughly 151 beds per year. With just over 1,200 beds lost in the market in 2016, the regional build rate could actually be closer to 1,350 new beds per year in order to offset home closures.

At the same time that demand is rising, the pipeline of planned developments in the South West suggests that just 700 beds will be built during 2018.

With about 77% of all care home beds built before modern quality standards were adopted in 2002, there is an urgent need for new development to meet demand and improve living standards for future care home residents.

Mr Oldfield said that priority should be given to care home provision in planning policy.

“A change of mindset is required that sees the development of care homes as an imperative for society and ensures that applications are resolved in a timely manner and without the frustrations that many operators report. “Attendant to reforms contained in the green paper should perhaps be protection or classification of land allocated to retirement living developments to ensure that the right type of housing is being built in the right locations. This would enable people to extend the period of independent living.”