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Experts warn 190,000 new care home places necessary by 2035

Increases in life expectancy coincide with rises in the number of years older adults spend with substantial care needs, a study found.

Almost 190,000 new care home places will be needed in under two decades to accommodate soaring demand, experts have predicted.

The number of people aged 65 or older who will need care home places will rise by 85.7% by 2035 – with 189,043 additional places needed, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

By 2025, an additional 71,215 care home places will be needed compared with today, experts estimate.

Increases in life expectancy have coincided with rises in the number of years that older adults spend with substantial care needs, the authors found.

For adults over 65, the number of years spent with substantial care needs nearly doubled between 1991 and 2011, according to the study.

Researchers compared data from two studies, each with more than 7,500 participants aged 65 and older from Cambridgeshire, Newcastle and Nottingham, which were conducted two decades apart.

Between 1991 and 2011, life expectancy increased for both men and women. The proportion of years living with low, medium or high dependency increased.

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Increases in life expectancy have coincided with rises in the number of years that older adults spend with substantial care needs (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The authors found that for adults over 65, the number of years spent with substantial care needs, classed as medium or high dependency, nearly doubled between 1991 and 2011 – rising from 1.1 years to 2.4 years for men, and from 1.6 years to 3.0 years for women.

Professor Carol Jagger, lead author from Newcastle University, said: “The past 20 years have seen continued gains in life expectancy, but not all of these years have been healthy years.

“Our study suggests that older people today are spending more of their remaining life with care needs.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “High quality care isn’t just about care home beds – 61% of people are cared for in their own home and since 2010 there has been a growth in home care agencies of more than 2,900.

“We’ve given local authorities in England an extra £2 billion boost over the next three years to maintain access for our growing ageing population and to put the social care sector on a sustainable footing for the future.”

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