Nurses are facing ‘impossible workloads’ as demand for care home spaces continues to soar among the growing elderly population.
Researchers from Newcastle University have claimed that an extra 71,000 care home spaces will be needed by 2025 as the UK population continues to age at a rapid rate. Further, the number of people needing round-the-clock care was predicted to rise by 163,000 in the same timeframe, according to their findings published in the Lancet journal.
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The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) called for a complete overhaul of the current elderly care system as they said it was no longer fit for purpose in the current climate.
RCN lead for care of older people Dawne Garrett said: ‘We are dealing with a rapidly ageing population and our care services just haven’t been able to keep up with demand. The government has pulled funds and resources from the social care sector just when they are needed most.
‘Nursing staff have done their best to keep going, but many are facing impossible workloads. Stretched between multiple care homes, they just aren’t able to provide the care patients need and the burden on support workers and patients’ families is building fast.
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‘As the government plans for the future of the health service, care homes need to be a priority. Our current system is clearly not fit for what lies ahead – we need a new and innovative model that can deliver the care our society needs.’
With only half of over-85s who require round-the-clock care in care homes, the strain is also growing on unpaid family carers and on the level of care home provision which is struggling to meet demand.
Lead author of the Lancet study, Professor Carol Jagger, called for more prevention work to be done early on so demand for permanent care could be eased among the elderly population. Over-65s were shown in the study to currently be living longer, but having substantial care needs across most of the additional time.
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‘The past 20 years have seen continued gains in life expectancy but not all of these years have been healthy,’ said Professor Jagger. ‘This finding, along with increased number of older adults with higher rates of illness and disability, is contributing to the current social care crisis.’
The Department of Health said they were giving local authorities in England £2 billion over the next three years to boost elderly care. Home care agencies have grown in number by more than 2,900 and the number of available beds in care homes has come from 59,049 in 2010 to 460,186 in 2016, they claimed.