'˜Urgent' investment needed as care homes are set to overtake hospitals as most common place to die

CARE HOMES require urgent and essential investment, experts have warned, as they predict that the number of people to die in homes could double by 2040.

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New research by King’s College London suggests care homes could overtake hospitals as the most common place to die.

Currently, just over a fifth of people die in a care home analysis of data for deaths in England and Wales from 2004 to 2014 predicts the number will more than double by 2040.

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Over the ten-year period, the proportion of deaths that occurred in care homes increased from 17 per cent to 21 per cent, with numbers rising from 85,000 to 106,000 a year. Calculations suggest this figure could rise to nearly 230,000 a year by 2040. Meanwhile, the number of deaths in hospital fell between 2004 and 2014, to 241,335 in 2014.

But researchers warned hospital deaths could rise again unless care home capacity increases.

Anna Bone, lead author of the paper published in Palliative Medicine, said: “The projected rise of deaths in care homes is striking and warns of the urgent need to ensure adequate bed capacity, resources and training of staff in palliative care in all care homes in the country. If we are to continue enabling people to die in their preferred place, it is essential to invest more in care homes and community health services.

“Without this investment, people are likely to seek help from hospitals, which puts pressure on an already strained system and is not where people would rather be at the end of their lives.”

Simon Jones, director of policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie, said: “This research serves to underline the important role that care homes play in end-of-life care. Yet, we cannot ignore the simple truth that too many people in care homes are effectively cut off from the specialist care and support they need and deserve towards the end of life.”

The RESEARCH comes as Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, warns that adult social care and children’s services are at the top of its “worry list”.

In a speech to open the National Adults and Children’s Services Conference in Bournemouth, today he will say: “Councils across the country are picking up the pieces of Whitehall’s failure to properly invest in services that care for our communities.”

In April, The Yorkshire Post reported that the region is the second worst performing area in England when it comes to satisfactory care homes. Research by Independent Age showed that in some areas such as Bradford or Wakefield, older people face little choice of quality care, with nearly half of care homes rated not good enough.