Care homes could overtake hospitals as the most common place for people to die, according to new research.
Just over a fifth of annual deaths in England and Wales currently occur in care homes, but experts predict the number will more than double by 2040.
Experts from King’s College London analysed data for deaths from 2004 to 2014. Over that period, the proportion of deaths that occurred in care homes increased from 17% to 21%, with the number of fatalities rising from 85,000 to 106,000 a year. Calculations suggest this figure could rise to nearly 230,000 a year by 2040. Meanwhile, the number of deaths in hospitals fell between 2004 and 2014 to 241,335, and this trend is expected to continue. The researchers said most people prefer to die in the place they are usually cared for, including home, rather than in hospital. But they warned that hospital deaths could rise again unless capacity continues to increase in care homes.
They said: “Our projections show that if current trends continue, the need for end-of-life care will rise substantially over the next 25 years, particularly at home and in care homes. If current trends continue, deaths in care homes, homes and hospices will almost double by 2040, which will account for 76% of all deaths. Care home deaths are projected to become the most common place of death by 2040.
However, if care home capacity does not increase and these additional deaths instead occur in hospital, the decline in hospital deaths will reverse by 2023, rising to 40.5% of all deaths by 2040.