HBI Deals+Insights / News

Examining closure trends in for-profit care homes in England

In this week’s infographic we look at the reported numbers of care home closures (voluntary and involuntary) in the UK from 2011 to 2023, as compiled by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and reported by The Lancet, a medical journal.

During the specified period the CQC involuntarily closed 816 homes in the UK, accounting for 14.1% of beds and 10.9% of homes shut down, totalling 19,918 beds. The proportion of involuntary closures is increasing, with 13.3% in 2021, 18.7% in 2022, and a staggering 22.5% in 2023.

Private for-profit care home groups comprised the vast majority (98.5%) of homes forcibly closed by the commission. Whilst this is in part due to the dominance of for-profit providers, constituting over 85.4% of active care homes in the market, the authors says it raises concerns about whether some for-profit facilities prioritise cost-cutting over the quality of care provided.

Between 2015 and 2017, there was a notable increase in forced closures of care homes, attributed mainly to workforce shortages and cuts to local council budgets — issues that continue to plague the sector. However, scrutiny has been directed at the measures implemented by the CQC, with criticisms regarding the frequency and size of fines being issued. For further insight into the regulatory actions across the market, you can delve into the details here.

The authors say that the dominance of for-profit providers raises concerns about their role in exacerbating the adult social care crisis in England. Research suggests they are performing poorly, casting doubt on the efficacy of competition in the sector. They propose there is an urgent need to evaluate for-profit provision’s impact on care quality and sustainability in the country.

Workforce issues, particularly recruiting new care workers, is and will continue to be a major issue for the sector as a whole, with recent changes to work visa immigration rules in the UK likely to exacerbate this issue even further. You can read more about the dramatic fall in overseas care worker applications here.

HBI has previously explored the responsibility not only of operators but also real estate investors to uphold a certain standard of care across the providers operating within their portfolio properties. The comprehensive hour-long conversation is available for on-demand viewing on the HBI 365 platform.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Theo Murray or call 0207 183 3779.