William Eichler 25 July 2018

Care homes not operating at full capacity, data analysts find

Healthcare data specialists have called for a reappraisal of the impending ‘care home crisis’ after discovering that care homes have more capacity than was previously thought.

A new report from LaingBuisson has revealed that the overall occupancy of care homes, measured as occupied beds as a percentage of registered beds, is at 85%, not 90% as was previously thought.

‘If the new information is correct, and we have no reason to doubt that it is, it sheds a whole new light on the balance between demand and supply for care homes,’ said William Laing, report author and Data Director at LaingBuisson.

The report, entitled Care Homes for Older People, also revealed there was more ‘latent provision’ than previously thought. This is where a provider chooses not to admit residents to full capacity in order to keep costs down.

‘This shifts the whole debate. Rather than looking at care home occupancy levels being close to their practical maximum, commissioners might want to look at whatever levers they have to bring the ‘latent provision’ back into use,’ said Mr Laing.

The report also noted that a key determinant of the market remains the balance between state-pay and self-pay clients. Where state-pay prevails, there continues to be significant pressure on providers’ prices and margins from council and CCG commissioners.

This puts into question the ‘sustainability of the model’, warned Mr Laing.

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