Crisis in care sector due to decline in beds and funding shortage

There has been a 10 per cent drop in care home beds over the past five years.

There has been a 10 per cent drop in care home beds over the past five years. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Care homes are in crisis with a shortage of beds, spiralling costs and a lack of staff.

Over the past four years, the number of care home beds available across North Somerset has dropped by 10 per cent.

Experts in the industry are warning of a crisis and are appealing for the Government to release more funds to help care homes which are struggling to stay afloat.

Sabato Notaro, financial director of Notaro Homes, which owns 11 nursing and residential homes in North Somerset and Somerset said: "Trade is the worst it's ever been in terms of staffing, filling beds and regulations.

"The budget has gone down by millions so they (local authorities) have got to find any way of saving money.

"However, all our costs have gone through the roof, such as staff wages and recruitment and agency fees.

"Nursing home clients have been put into residential homes to save money.

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"What we are seeing in Weston is what we are seeing across the country, but in Somerset and North Somerset it's worse because of the higher population of elderly who require care."

With more people being placed in care homes, industry experts say it is having a detrimental effect on nursing homes which are struggling to be filled.

It also means clients with higher needs are being placed in care homes which means extra costs on specialist equipment and care.

They are also losing carers and nurses to better paid jobs.

Mr Notaro said: "We've got the highest number of staff vacancies we've seen since we've been in business.

"People used to leave to go to other care homes but now people are leaving to work in supermarkets and retail because they can get more than £8.50-9.50 an hour. It's just a nightmare.

"Our four nursing homes lose money every week. They are being kept afloat by our residential homes.

"Our profits are rapidly disappearing.

"All the funding reserves care homes have made they are all using to keep themselves afloat."

According to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), there are now 2,641 care home beds compared to 2,961 in 2014.

A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "Over the past five years there has been a decline in the number of registered care home beds and we are keen to see this trend reversed given the demographic pressures that will inevitably lead to the need for more provision.

"The decline in beds is a common problem nationally and in particular in seaside authorities.

"Ten years ago, North Somerset Council would have had one of the largest proportionate numbers of care home beds in England.

"At this time, North Somerset Council also spent a large proportion of its adult care budget - one of the largest in England - on care homes, which was not the most cost-effective form of care.

"This position has changed dramatically but we still spend above the national average on care home provision.

"We have worked hard to develop alternative care provision such as supported housing units through the housing with support strategy in order to maximise independence.

"We still recognise that there will need to be new care home provision in the future - particularly for dementia care."