‘Significant Deficit’ in Elderly Care Home Beds Likely Within Next Decade

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Wales will see a significant deficit in elderly care home bed numbers within the next decade, a new report warns.

Between 2020 and 2023, 40 elderly care homes in Wales closed and only four opened, says Christie & Co.

It forecasts that by 2034 there will an undersupply of more than 9,000 beds across Wales.

Rural areas are already seeing a ‘significant shortfall’, with major challenges standing in the way of the development of new care homes, it says.

The specialist business property adviser has launched its Wales Healthcare Market Insight 2024 report, which analyses the elderly care home market across Wales.

It highlights the growing need for new-build, future-proof care homes throughout the country.

As of March 2024, there are 594 elderly care homes across Wales with an average capacity for 37 residents. They comprise a total of 21,820 care beds, 60 per cent of which have en suite provision, 25 per cent have wet room provision and just 22 per cent have dedicated dementia provision, according to Christie & Co’s benchmarking data.

These homes are primarily located in urban areas of higher population density, such as Cardiff, Swansea, and Wrexham, and there remains a significant shortfall of such beds in many rural areas where poor transport links and staffing challenges prohibit development.

The average home in Wales has an occupancy rate of 92 per cent, a rise from 90 per cent in 2022/23, and 89 per cent in England.

Between 2020 and 2024, 604 Effective Market Capacity or future-proof (EMC) beds were developed in Wales, either through new registrations or the refurbishment of existing facilities, an increase of just 5% in four years.

Yet demand rose by 20% meaning that, as of 2024, the overall demand for beds in Wales is circa 21,155 whilst there are only circa 12,501 EMC beds in supply – just 59% of the required demand.

74% of Local Authorities in Wales require EMC beds, yet only 26% currently have sufficient levels of supply, which further demonstrates the necessity of such provision, says the report.

Christie & Co forecasts that, by 2034, there will be a total undersupply of 1,672 EMC beds in North Wales and 7,423 EMC beds in South Wales.

Rob Kinsman, Regional Director – Care at Christie & Co, and Will Edwards – Healthcare Development & Investment at Christie & Co, said:

“The figures in our report speak for themselves. There is a severe need for EMC beds in Wales and this demand is growing rapidly as people live longer and we see a rise in the closure of homes that are no longer fit for purpose.

“Wales is behind the curve with England and Scotland in terms of new future-proof care bed provision coming forward.

“It is clear there is a significant opportunity for specialist developers, operators, funders, and private individuals to benefit from early mover advantage into the Welsh market. Christie & Co deal activity for care and retirement development sites is starting to increase in the country, with two completions in the first half of this year. We look forward to working with market participants in facilitating future-proof bed supply to serve the growing need of the elderly population.”

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