Some 71,000 extra care home places will be needed by 2025 in England even though dependent older people are more likely in the future to live in the community, a report in the medical journal the Lancet has found.
It estimated the extra places would be needed to meet increased life expectancy even if the rate of people entering care homes remained constant.
The study also estimated that there would be an additional 353,000 older people with substantial dependencies requiring care and support at home by 2025.
Responding to the report Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Margaret Willcox said: “If the trend of more people choosing to stay at home continues, the number requiring care at home could be significantly higher. This is further evidence that social care needs to be everyone’s concern and a national priority.
“As most people expect to need some form of care in their lifetime, there is an urgent need for the whole country to consider how best to ensure people with care needs are supported [and] how their care is funded.”
She said older people would otherwise “struggle to receive the personal, dignified care they depend on and deserve”.
The Lancet paper by researchers said that between 1991 and 2011 the numbers of years over the age of 65 during which men lived with low dependency increased from one to seven and for women from two to four.
There were substantial reductions in the proportions of people with medium and high dependency who lived in care homes.
On average older men spent 2.4 years and women 3 years with substantial care needs with most continuing to live in the community. The paper said this had “considerable implications for families of older people who provide the majority of unpaid care” but added the findings also provided ”valuable new information for governments and care providers planning the resources and funding required for the care of their future ageing populations”.