Areas considered ‘care deserts’, according to report

Realities of trying to meet costs highlighted in Age UK report
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director

Areas in England are now considered ‘care deserts’ due to lack of provision available, with 30% of locations having no residential care beds.

‘Care deserts’ are areas where sufficient social care services are unavailable, no matter the individual or local authority’s ability to pay, meaning the needs of the local population go unmet.

The report, titled Care deserts: the impact of a dysfunctional market in adult social care provision, was produced by healthcare consultancy Incisive Health and commissioned by Age UK.

It found that there were around 7,500 postcode districts in England and nearly 1,800 of them had no care beds. This means that more than 1.3 million people over the age of 65 live in postcode districts with no care home beds at all, the report said.

Age UK estimates that 1.4 million older people, equating to nearly one in seven, do not have access to care and support they need from either formal or informal sources, and, as a result, are living with an unmet need. This is an increase of 19% in the past two years.

Approximately only 1 in 3 of the postcode districts contained a care home bed with nursing, leaving significant sections of the country with potentially long distances to travel to access suitable care.

In Hull, Totnes and Guilford, the number of nursing home beds per 1,000 over 65s was zero.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: ‘Incisive Health’s report demonstrates that the situation differs markedly from place to place but in the end the fragile nature of care in our country is a national problem and it needs a national solution. If the awful situation set out in this report doesn’t persuade our government to finally get a grip and take action I don’t know what will.’

Kieran Lucia, account director at Incisive Health: ‘The social care system is broken. Despite the best efforts of the dedicated social care workforce, years of political inaction and budget cuts to local authorities have resulted in a system that is no longer capable of delivering care to everyone who needs it.

‘Urgent action is needed to stabilise the system and set it on the course to delivering sustainable care in the long-term. The green paper cannot come soon enough.’