With Britain getting older, our pension pots getting less generous and fewer of us owning our own home, the question of how we fund care and who will deliver it is one of the biggest public policy headaches in the UK.
Deaths in care homes during the Covid 19 crisis have forced the issue to the forefront of the national conversation. So what do we know about the charitable care sector and how it compares to other providers?
Charity data is often hard to come by and harder to use once you’ve got it (though we do our best to demystify it). Care homes in England though are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who publish a range of data resources. We dived into this data to see what we could learn about how charity care homes compare.
We accessed the “Active locations for providers registered under the Health and Social Care Act (HSCA)” data set, published on the 2nd of August, and filtered for “Care Homes” (as opposed to “Nursing Homes” and “Residential Homes”). This left us with just over 15,000 results, covering all the English care homes regulated by the CQC.
We then sorted by whether the organisation had a charity number or not. Just over 13,000 didn’t and 2,000 did, which suggests there are just over 2,000 charitable care homes in the UK representing about 14% of the care home sector. The bulk of the care home sector then, is not charitable but a mix of NHS and private providers. Our aspiration for future analysis is to distinguish between these two but at this stage we don’t have the resources to be able to do that.
The CQC data also includes the number of beds in each home, referring to its maximum capacity. Here Charities actually have a slightly smaller share, with 10% of beds, meaning 90% of the care home capacity in England is outside the charitable sector.
So charitable care homes are likely a relatively small part of the sector in England. But can we tell anything about the difference between charitable and other providers just by looking at this data?
The CQC rates care homes on a scale from “Outstanding” to “Inadequate”. We’re able to see how these rating spread between charities and non-charities.
Now we can only interpret these results very broadly, and the range of different sample sizes makes it a little difficult to make meaningful comparisons, but there are some interesting things to note here.
The proportion rated “Outstanding” is the same across the two groups, but a larger proportion of charity care homes are rated “Good” and a smaller proportion have been found to “Require Improvement”. Broadly then, it looks like charities get better CQC ratings than other types of care home.
This is a very, very, blunt analysis. It doesn’t distinguish between private and NHS providers, between elderly care and other forms of adult social care, say much about geography, or analyse how many homes are grouped under single providers (such as big national charities).
But all these things could be done and even these initial findings raise interesting questions that we’d been to explore in more depth. How we will be cared for in old age will continue to rise up the agenda, so we need to understand the role of charities currently and what they could offer in future.
We’re looking for partners to explore this question in more detail so please get in touch.