Care Guides > The Number of UK Care Home Residents

The Number of UK Care Home Residents


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, Lottie takes 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… 

Number of Care Homes in the UK

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 under 18,000 care homes in the UK, including the Channel Islands; 1,509 in England, 1,336 in Wales, 1,044 in Scotland and 418 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.

Care Home Breakdown by Care Type

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 17,598 care homes in the UK, 12,471 of these are residential and 5,127 are nursing homes. This can be broken down further by country:


  • 15,009 care homes
  • 10,905 residential
  • 4,104 nursing


  • 1,336 care homes
  • 776 residential
  • 260 nursing


  • 1,044 care homes
  • 1,044 residential
  • 547 nursing

Northern Ireland

  • 418 care homes
  • 181 residential
  • 237 nursing

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.

Number of Care Home Residents

So, we’ve tackled the care homes themselves – but how many care home residents are there across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland? 

Well, in 2020, we can tell you that there were 490,326 people living in the UK’s care homes in the United Kingdom – 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. 

Care home residents in England

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of care home residents is highest in England, with a massive 418,710 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. 

Care home residents in Scotland

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 35,630, making it the country with the second-highest number of residents in the UK. 

Care home residents in Wales

The number of care home residents registered in Wales is slightly less than Scotland, at around 24,178. Like England, Welsh data on care home residents was taken from the Office of National Statistics. 

Care home residents in Northern Ireland

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.  

Care Home Staff Ratio

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. 

Future Population Forecasting

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. 

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! 


Similar Blog Posts

Based on your selected criteria and the activity of similar individual’s using Lottie.