Care home sector to see occupancy rates recover to pre-Covid levels from autumn 2022

Care home occupancy rates will recover to pre-Covid levels from October 2022 according to research by health & social care market analysts Carterwood. Occupancy is expected to

fall from 87.3 per cent in January 2020 to a low-point of 79.3 per cent in April 2021, according to analysis of the impact of Covid- 19 on the sector. Carterwood forecasts occupancy will then

steadily pick up to pre-Covid levels. Assuming a death rate recovery of 75 per cent during 2021- 22, the company expects occupancy to return to 87.3 per cent in October 2022 or by September 2023 with a 50 per cent death rate recovery. The speed of recovering occupancy levels

will be largely determined by when a vaccine is available, the impact of Covid-19 on lower care home death rates over the next couple of years, admission patterns as well as the

severity and length of future outbreaks, said Carterwood director Ben Hartley (pictured). In the short term, Covid-

related falls in occupancy will be “very challenging” for some operators and for those with high gearing and/or thin margins “it will likely prove fatal,” he added. In the longer term, occupancy in December 2024 is predicted

to hit 89.5 per cent or 92 per cent, depending upon death rate recovery assumptions. Carterwood expects en-suite care home

bed shortfall levels across England will increase by between 48,810 and 57,841 beds by December 2024. Total capacity is forecast to decline from

387,428 registered beds in January 2020 to 369,386 beds by December 2024. The change is driven by a loss of around

36,800 existing beds due to financial pressures, localised Covid-19 impact and asset obsolescence counteracted by a gain of

around 19,600 beds from continued new development, said Hartley. “The effects of Covid-19 will be highly

localised and those operating in markets with significant outbreaks will inevitably see lower occupancy levels for longer,” he added. “By contrast, homes that remain Covid-19

free may possibly have the potential to charge premium fee rates. It is likely that those offering high quality, purpose-built accommodation will be able to claim greater capacity to cope with infection control and self-isolation for those in need.” Hartley continued: “Notwithstanding the

immediate and very obvious short and mid- term pressures facing care operators, it is encouraging that over the longer term we predict a stable and resilient picture for care home demand. “The long-term demographic profile will

continue to drive demand and the sector has shown itself to have been remarkably resilient to material levels of bed loss over the past few decades.”

Converted Yorkshire hotel accommodates first care residents

A West Yorkshire hotel converted into a 113-bed care home to help tackle the Covid- 19 crisis has accepted its first residents. Cedar Court in Ainley Top between

Huddersfield and Halifax is said to be the first UK hotel to be converted into a care home to ease pressure on essential services. In response to the increase in Covid-19

cases, Calderdale Council, Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group and the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust worked together to build capacity within the community to improve the flow of available beds at Calderdale Royal Hospital. “We've been working on this alongside

primary care for about a month, it's been a brilliant piece of work by staff to get this opened in such a short period," a Calderdale Council spokeswoman said. Cedar Court home care manager Fiona

Smith said the facility will meet the needs of vulnerable people who cannot be cared for in their own home. “This is usually following discharge from

hospital or to prevent admission to hospital but it is also available to provide carers with some respite or where a carer may no longer able to provide the support which is needed, for example through illness,” she added. The service is registered with the Care Quality Commission and is managed by

a team from the council that has been specially created for this purpose. “The team is very enthusiastic in its support

for the new service and want it to provide a positive experience for the people who stay here,” said Smith. “This includes organising a range of

activities such as arts and crafts, music and June 2020 •

singing, quizzes, card and board games and also encouraging people to use the hotel grounds in line with government guidelines to exercise once a day, whilst maintaining social distancing,” she added. Cedar Court has single rooms with

en-suite facilities and offers house-keeping, catering and laundry facilities, Smith said.


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