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Majority of care homes closed by regulators are ‘run for-profit’

More than 85 percent of all care homes in England were operated by for-profit providers; in 2011, the figure was 78 percent.

An older man, image by Ahmet Demirel via Wikimedia / Public domain (CC0 1.0)
An older man, image by Ahmet Demirel via Wikimedia / Public domain (CC0 1.0)

A new analysis from the University of Oxford has discovered that almost all care homes that have been forced to close in England by the regulatory, the Care Quality Commission, are those run on a for-profit basis.

In the U.K., care homes, providing services to elderly and vulnerable people, are either run for-profit, as non-for-profit companies, or they are in the state sector. The results draw attention to the suitability to many parts of the private sector in operating care facilities.

For the study, researchers assessed the number of care homes which had been instructed to close by the Care Quality Commission. This revealed that almost all involuntary closures since 2011 occurred in for-profit care homes: 804 out of 816 closures.

In September 2023 more than 85 percent of all care homes in England were operated by for-profit providers; in 2011, the figure was 78 percent.

Lead researcher Dr Benjamin Goodair, Department of Social Policy and Intervention, states: “Social care services in England are on a knife-edge of a crisis: underfunded, understaffed, and struggling to supply the quality of care deserved by the most vulnerable people in society.”

The researchers estimate that up to 20,000 residents were forced to relocate urgently due to enforced care home closures since 2011.

This makes the new findings concerning: “This new data challenges the assumption that these pressures can be eased by outsourcing more social care to the for-profit sector. Instead, what is needed is a comprehensive assessment of the impact of for-profit provision on the quality and sustainability of adult social care in England.”

An involuntary closure is only issued to care homes that have put their residents at

risk, or whose care services have continuously failed to meet industry standards.

The new results add to the findings of previous studies that indicate care homes operating on a for-profit basis tend to deliver poorer care than third and public sector providers.

What makes the research so important is because the UK is experiencing a ‘care crisis’ with public funding failing to keep pace with rising needs, a situation worsened by the continuing cost of living crisis and rises in inflation.

The CQC has raised concerns that the lack of a sustainable funding plan from the UK government and this poses a serious risk to the sector and its most vulnerable residents.

The study appears in the journal The Lancet Healthy Longevity, titled: “Involuntary closures of for-profit care homes by the Care Quality Commission”.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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