Last reviewed 19 October 2021

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published, for the first time, figures on the self-funding population of care home residents, weighted up to create a pre-Covid-19 pandemic annual estimate.

The experimental ONS release is drawn from data from care homes collected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for the period August 2019 to February 2020. The experimental method is a new one that is being developed to understand the size of the self-funding population in care homes in England.

According to these figures, during the year to February 2020, 85% of care home beds, or 391,927 out of 462,460, were occupied in England; and 37% of care home residents were paying for their own care before the pandemic, while 63% were state-funded. This equates to approximately 143,774 self-funded care home residents, compared with 248,153 state-funded residents.

Smaller care homes with less than 20 beds, care homes for younger adults and care homes in England's most deprived areas had the fewest self-funding residents. Of the residents in care homes for people aged over 65 years almost half were self-funders compared to only 4.8% in homes for younger residents.

Care homes in England’s most deprived areas had the least self-funders, at 22%, rising to 54% in the country’s wealthiest areas. The South East had the highest proportion of self-funders at 45%, whereas the North East had the lowest at 25%.

The new data release, Care Homes and Estimating the Self-funding Population, England: 2019 to 2020, is available here.

The ONS also launched a public survey to gather feedback from potential users to help with the development of this experimental work.

Although information relating to the number of people receiving long-term support from local authorities is published by NHS Digital as part of the Adult Social Care Activity and Finance Report, this does not cover adult social care activity that is funded elsewhere, such as when care is arranged and funded by the client without any involvement from the local authority.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has highlighted the lack of official data on self-funders, which makes it impossible to estimate the size and expenditure of the self-funding population. So the ONS’s new method hopes to start filling the evidence gap and can serve as a pre-pandemic baseline comparison for future releases, including with time periods impacted by the pandemic.