UK: Elderly Care In Crisis: Will There Be A Care Home For You In 2030?

Last Updated: 29 March 2016
Article by Karen Young and Richard McFarlane

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

The Centre for Health Solutions report Better Care for Frail Older People highlighted the challenge of caring for an increasingly frail and ageing population, including the need to improve access to care in all places of care. This week's blog is a personal take from one of our senior consultants who spent seven years of his career working for a major aged care provider in the UK, where he saw first-hand the pressures that the sector is facing in dealing with an ever-ageing population and increasing numbers of people suffering from dementia. An experience that led him to question whether there will still be a care home sector in 2030?

It seems an almost daily occurrence that the elderly care sector will be the subject of negative news articles, be it failings by care homes to adequately provide end of life care for dementia patients1, crimes committed in care homes2, or the industry facing an inability to finance itself3. Every week appears to bring a new set of lurid headlines.

Over the past seven years I travelled around the country visiting care homes of all varieties, from small local authority-managed operations in Teesside, to large multi-sites in central Birmingham, to beautiful retirement communities in leafy Wimbledon. I found a number of common issues existed, regardless of size, demographics or affluence:

  • The difficulty in running a profitable care home
    The oft-heard answer to all the ills of a care home that is struggling financially, is to attract more self-funded residents. Local authorities appear to pass on cuts in social care budgets by limiting increases in fees paid for publicly funded care home places as a first port of call. Certainly any increases that have been made have failed to match the increased cost of providing care to elderly residents. At the same time, attracting self-funders is becoming more difficult as more people of retirement age choose to, or are supported to, live in their own homes for longer and only look to move into a care home as their needs become acute, by which time they may have less available funds to pay for their care, and their needs are more complex, often requiring a more expensive care, or indeed nursing, home.

  • An ageing workforce
    You may be surprised to hear that I often found that those working in care homes were nearly as old as some of the residents. One activities coordinator, who came into the home once a week to run a yoga class for the residents with dementia, was approaching 80 herself.  New analysis has shown that half of all registered managers in the adult social care sector are aged over 50, which could see 10,000 retire within the next 15 years. It is clear that fewer young people see nursing for the elderly as a viable career option, despite the potentially rewarding nature of the work.

  • Lack of innovation
    The baby boomer generation are now approaching the age where they are beginning to require professional care. Using my parents as an example, they are (largely) tech-savvy, live highly social lives and have a certain expectation for their lifestyle. However, I would argue that the care sector is not prepared for this type of resident. With some notable exceptions, the approach to care homes I saw was still to sit residents in front of the television for hours, with a daily activity and the occasional trip out. In future, if care homes are to remain relevant and be attractive to self-funders, care home providers are going to need to think about the environment in the home, including the availability and access to technology and connectivity, creative activities and more personalised care.

While this appears to paint a somewhat bleak picture that is the last impression I want to give as I greatly enjoyed my time working in the sector and am still passionate about the subject of aged care. Rather what we need to do is focus on solutions to the above problems, beginning with raising awareness of the industry.

There are huge numbers of dedicated staff in all types of care homes doing amazing jobs every day, and I think there is a real need to sing the praises of these people and work hard to make care work and nursing an attractive career to enter.

A recent development is the growth of retirement villages. Popular in the US and Australasia, they are becoming an increasing option for ageing baby boomer couples where one, or both, of the couple are beginning to become infirm but want to continue to lead an active lifestyle.

These villages offer an integrated care pathway, usually in three stages:

  1. retirement apartments which still provide independent living
  2. assisted living apartments, where there is a care team if needed and daily chores (cleaning, gardening etc)
  3. a traditional care home providing 24-hour nursing care

Some of these sites are impressive, with gardens, spas and even onsite restaurants. Personal testimony from people who have visited them has convinced me it is the way to spend your retirement!

So, to bring me back to my original (admittedly sensationalist) question, will there be a working care sector in fourteen years' time? My opinion is that there will always be a need for decent care homes providing a compassionate approach to caring. Furthermore, that the problems that are facing the industry can be solved, but there needs to first be an acknowledgement that the system as it stands is not working and that creative thinking is required to find a solution.

Finally, I would urge you to visit a local care home to see for yourselves. The 4th annual National Care Home Open Day is on 17th June and is a great opportunity to see what life is like in your community and what great care can and should look like.4






The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.