If you’re a new Care Seeker in the UK, you may have already done plenty of research into different care homes.
It can be pretty overwhelming trying to decide which one would work best for you – and you may be wondering how those already in care homes made their decision. But just how many care home residents are there in the UK?
In this article, we've taken a look at how many care home residents are living in care homes all over the UK, including the resident to staff ratio. Read on to learn more.
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People go into care homes for many different reasons, including something as simple as old age, to specific health conditions and disabilities. Given that people are living longer, the number of care home residents in the UK has grown and grown, which can put pressure on health and social care provision.
To start with, it may help to get an idea of the sheer number of care homes in the UK. There are just over 17,000 care homes in the UK, including the Channel Islands; 14,535 in England, 1,024 in Wales, 1,025 in Scotland and 405 in Northern Ireland.
This figure takes into account private care homes, voluntary care homes and public care homes run by local authorities and the NHS.
Care homes come in all shapes and sizes, from smaller homes with just a few residents, to large homes housing fifty residents or more. However, the average size of a UK care home is around 20 residents.
We can delve further into the above statistics to find out how many care homes by care type there are in the UK. For example, of the 17,079 care homes in the UK, 12,022 of these are residential and 5,057 are nursing homes, with care homes fees differing from home type to home type. In the UK, there typically tends to be a higher ratio of residential care homes to nursing care homes, with the exception of Northern Ireland. This can be broken down further by country:
The table below shows the number of care homes - residential and nursing - throughout the UK:
|Residential Care Homes||12,022||10,496||767||523||174|
The table below shows the percentage of care homes in each UK region:
|Region||What Percentage of Care Homes Do They Contain?|
|South East England||15.78%|
|North West England||11.91%|
|South West England||11.56%|
|East of England||9.2%|
|Yorkshire & The Humber||8.26%|
|North East England||4.44%|
|Isle of Man||0.18%|
Similarly, this table shows the number of registered beds in care homes across the same UK regions:
|Region||How Many Registered Beds Do They Contain?|
|South East England||15.46%|
|North West England||11.92%|
|South West England||10.18%|
|East of England||9.79%|
|Yorkshire & The Humber||8.88%|
|North East England||4.98%|
|Isle of Man||0.18%|
So, we’ve tackled the care homes themselves – but how many care home residents are there across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?
Currently, there are around 430,000 people living in the UK's care homes - that’s nearly half a million! It is also possible to extract more detail from this data; for example, around 85 per cent of care home residents are living in residential settings – and according to data from the Alzheimer’s Society, around 70 per cent of all care home residents have dementia or serious memory problems.
|Number of Care Home Residents||430,131||360,792||24,178||33,353||11,808|
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of care home residents is highest in England, with a massive 360,792 of the total. This data came from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and was actually used to look into deaths involving Covid in the care sector.
Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides information taken from the Scottish Care Home Census for adults on the numbers of care homes and their residents, among other things. Recent data put the number of care home residents in Scotland at 33,353, making it the country with the second-highest number of residents in the UK.
The number of care home residents registered in Wales is slightly less than Scotland, at around 24,178. Welsh data on care home residents was taken from the National Social Care Data Portal for Wales.
Last on the list is Northern Ireland – and 2020 data from the HSC Board recorded that in Northern Ireland there are an estimated 11,808 people living in care homes, which is the smallest number of care home residents across the UK.
According to the Alzheimer's Society, around 70% of care home residents in the UK have dementia or similar memory problems.
This would mean an estimated 285,860 people living in residential, nursing or dementia homes have some form of dementia.
Similarly, an Alzheimer’s Society study in 2014 found that 311,370 people were living with dementia in a residential care setting.
Of these, 180,500 were living in residential homes, while 131,230 were living in nursing homes.
Here are the number of staff members employed by care homes throughout the UK:
|Number of Care Home Staff||696,340||595,000||29,860||53,080||18,400|
So, with so many care home residents, how many people does it take to look after them all? The number of care home staff in the UK is almost 700,000 people!
That makes the care home resident to staff ratio roughly seven staff members for every five residents.
Having enough staff to care for and support residents is incredibly important – especially when you take into consideration the round-the-clock care some people need, specifically those in nursing homes or care homes catering for dementia patients.
Care home staff may include: care home managers, registered nurses (RNs), care workers, activities coordinators, receptionists, cooks, cleaners, therapists and other healthcare professionals and maintenance staff, all of whom work tirelessly 24/7 to deliver exceptional standards of care for our elderly people.
Although there are 700,000 people working in care homes, the total number of people working in the adult social care sector in the UK is now over one million! This covers a range of care types, from helping elderly people with everyday tasks and personal care, to wider support to help them socialise and get more out of life.
According to the two sets of figures we’ve presented (number of care home residents and number of care home staff), here are the ratios in UK care homes between members of staff and residents:
|Country||Staff to Resident Ratio|
|England||Approximately 1.65 members of staff to every resident|
|Wales||Approximately 1.24 members of staff to every resident|
|Scotland||Approximately 1.6 members of staff to every resident|
|Northern Ireland||Approximately 1.56 members of staff to every resident|
|UK||Approximately 1.59 members of staff to every resident|
Source: NHS Digital
In 2019/20, total spending on adult social care was only £99 million more than in 2010/11, despite a huge increase in demand for services.
The UK care home industry experienced quite the shake-up over the last year, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – and sadly care homes reported more than 40,000 deaths as a result of the coronavirus.
As the virus spread, families and friends became fearful of the risk of infection and were therefore reluctant to put their loved ones in a care home. Restricted visiting times and increased hygiene and safety measures, including social distancing, meant that once-bustling care homes across the UK became quieter and emptier.
However, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, as social care analyst Carterwood has predicted that care home occupancy rates will recover fast and rise to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021.
This may be due to the restrictions that the virus caused for Care Seekers and their families – now that restrictions are lifting, vaccinations are being given and infection rates are falling, elderly people can once again start moving into care homes across the UK.
In 2019/20, 1.9 million people in the UK requested support from their council - over 100,000 more than in 2015/16. The table below maps out the number of support requests between 18-64 year olds and those aged 65+:
|Year||Age Group||Number of Requests|
Source: NHS Digital
From 2015/16 to 2019/20, the number of council requests for social care for social care increased by 59,680 (12%) for 18-64 year olds and 60,145 (5%) for 65+ year olds.
There are certainly a lot of people living in the UK’s care homes and due to our ageing population, this isn’t likely to change any time soon.
However, our look into UK care homes has shown us that there are also plenty of care home staff to look after and support these care home residents.
If you’ve started your care home search and have any questions about how to find the best home for you, why not get in touch with us to find out more!