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Care ‘deserts’ emerging across England

2,200 postcode districts have no residential care beds

Care deserts are emerging in England, with some areas having no or very little care available for older people, Age UK has warned.

The analysis by Incisive Health suggests 30% of areas now have no residential care beds.

The situation is even worse for nursing homes with more than 60% having no places.

Age UK warned that about 1.4 million older people are not getting the care they need – nearly one in seven of the over-65 population.

Ruthe Isden, from Age UK, said: “The system is failing people – and that is having catastrophic consequences.”

The study, reported by BBC News, found that out of the 7,500 postcode districts in England, about 2,200 had no residential care beds and 4,600 had no nursing ones with the north-east, south-west and east of England particularly badly hit.

Access to help at home was harder to quantify, but Age UK said it is undoubtedly a problem, with the number of hours of care being provided falling.

The charity said the system is severely underfunded – spending by councils has fallen by 9% per person in real terms since 2010.

One result has been an increasing reliance on self-funders – those who paid the entire cost of care themselves, but even that has not been enough, with reports of services struggling to stay open and recruit enough staff.

In Hull, for example, a third of nursing home beds had closed in the past three years.

Overall, about 8% of posts in the care sector were vacant, the study found.