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By Debbie le Quesne

Bed occupancy falls – fears for future rise

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Occupancy rates for residential and nursing homes tumbled last year, according to the world’s leading independent real estate consultancy.

In a trading performance review on last year, Knight Frank analysis reveals that the overall occupancy rate fell from 87.8 per cent to 87.2 per cent.

Figures also show that the general pattern over the last five years is one of falling occupancy rates.

As an aside, the analysis for 2012 reveals that residential care homes benefit from higher occupancy rates than nursing registered care homes, with occupancy rates of 89.0 per cent and 86.2 per cent respectively.

With margins squeezed by fiscal restraints it’s easy to deduce that occupancy levels short of 100 per cent for many operators are deeply worrying. Even a single bed in a small residential setting can tip the balance.

It will be interesting to see figures for this year’s occupancy – something that I guess I should dread.

It’s interesting to note too, how the role of managers in both clinical and residential settings have become more commercially driven, many them being the only person responsible for selling the care services.

As the divide between the actual and real cost of care widens – and has done since 2006 (source Knight Frank) – my fears are that we will soon see an unsustainable situation emerge for many more smaller providers who offer essential services to the local authority.

This is not a time to be short on cash for caring for caring for our elderly loved-one, but the truth is that many of us are. I can only hope that with a general election looming something will give to help the private care sector stay afloat

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