As Britain’s elderly population continues to expand, new research from Mintel finds just 40% of Brits would be willing to move a family member or themselves into a residential care home, should the need arise for long-term care due to illness, disability or old age. Today, just a fifth (20%) of Brits believe that the quality of care received in a residential care home would be better than in their own home, a figure that drops to 16% of women.

While Men (40%) are only slightly more likely than women (39%) to say they would be willing to move a member of their family into a residential home, they are considerably less likely to feel guilty about the move. Indeed, just over half (51%) of men say they would feel guilty about a possible move compared to as many as two-thirds of women (65%).

And in terms of their own future care, around four in ten Brits (39% of men and 38% of women) would be willing to move into a care home themselves in the future, but almost a quarter of men (25%) have completely ruled out a move to a residential care home themselves compared to just 3% of women.

Overall, some 80% of Brits said they had seen negative reports in the media about the treatment of residents or conditions at residential care homes. Negativity surrounding the quality of care service and the treatment of residents is further highlighted by the high number of consumers that had heard negative reports from friends or family (51%).

Today, just a fifth (20%) of Brits believe that the quality of care received in a residential care home would be better than in their own home

Lewis Cone, Senior Research Analyst said:

“With the UK’s ageing population trend expected to continue until at least 2040, there will be a guaranteed climb in the number of people who will require high-intensity care. Companies operating in the sector have to improve the public’s perception of care homes and show that their care services are greater value for money than other types of care to fully take advantage of this favourable demographic trend.”

“Residential care is being provided in an environment where public opinion of the quality of provision is fragile and while social care in the UK is undergoing significant changes. Over recent years, the government has encouraged people to explore other services for long term care for the elderly such as domiciliary care, as they help reduce cost burdens while allowing the care client to remain largely independent. Care home scandals highlighted in the media have undoubtedly influenced public opinion.” Lewis continues.

As well as guilt and bad publicity, cost is a major barrier for the residential care sector. Indeed, for those consumers who were willing to consider residential care for a family member, both cost (18%) and the scale of independent living on offer at a care home (17%) are considered the most important factors when choosing a residential care home. These were followed by specialist services and/or staff (15%), being close to relatives 12% and medical staff training 11%.

But for many a care village is considered a more attractive option, most consumers would prefer to put a family member into a “care village” than a residential care home, some six in ten (59%) consumers preferring this option.

The value of the UK residential care market is estimated to reach £18.8 billion by the end of 2014, representing an annual increase of 1.7% from £18.5 billion in 2013 and an increase of £2 billion over the past five years. The annual rate of increase has fluctuated between 1.7% and 4.8% since 2010, reflecting the changing structure of the industry amid increasing demand, local authority expenditure constraints and fee fluctuations due to the irregular economic climate.

The number of places in UK care homes is forecast to marginally increase by up to 1.2% per year until 2019, while the number of registered care homes continues to decline.

“In recent years, the industry has faced a number of challenges, including fee increases, whilst local authority contributions have declined, due to budgetary restrictions and the tightening of eligibility criteria to receive local authority commissioned care. These potential barriers to the sector’s development have occurred while the number of elderly people has increased, which has forced many to choose other forms of care, such as domiciliary care.”

With the number of registered care homes declining, whilst the number of care home places are increasing, care providers are clearly focussing on larger, purpose-built homes that can offer nursing care more widely and are more economical. This will also help companies manage the higher increase in costs in comparison to the care fees being distributed by local authorities.” concludes Lewis.

Press review copies of the Residential Care for the Elderly UK 2014 report and interviews with Senior Research Analyst, Lewis Cone, are available on request from the press office.

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