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Care Guides > Care Home Ownership: Are All Care Homes Private?

Care Home Ownership: Are All Care Homes Private?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

This is a question that many care seekers wonder about. In truth, there are several different types of care home ownership, including privately owned homes, charity-run homes and council-owned homes.

If you’re looking for an explanation of all the different types, as well as tips to help you decide which type might be the best choice for you or your loved one, read on for Lottie’s handy guide.

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Are All Care Homes Considered to Be Private?

The short answer is no.

It’s true that the private care home sector is largely dominant in England, with just over eight out of every ten beds in care homes being privately owned. However, this doesn’t mean that all care homes are private. 

Across the UK, you’ll find a mix of privately-owned care homes, as well as homes run by charity organisations and homes owned by local councils. You may already have your own perceptions of private and council-owned care homes and which might be the better option for you, but it’s worth investigating all the choices available before making a decision.

What Are the Different Types of Care Home Ownership?

The three main types of care home ownership are privately owned, which are run by private individuals or companies, owned by local councils, run by the local authorities, and voluntary, run by local charities or non-profit organisations. 

No matter who owns them, all care homes have a duty to provide residential care, nursing care, dementia care and other types of specialist support and social care to meet the needs of their residents.

All Care Homes in the UK are registered, inspected and listed by the relevant regulatory authority, which in England and Wales is the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Care Inspectorate in Scotland and the Health Information and Quality Authority in Ireland (HIQA)

1. Private

Private care homes are owned by private companies (for profit companies) or individuals and range from smaller, family-run homes to large care providers like Bupa and Care UK, which have hundreds of UK care homes on their books. 

Some people associate the word ‘private’ with a more luxurious, upmarket experience, but this would definitely be a generalisation. Private care homes are not necessarily better than public care homes, but they do tend to provide high-quality care and support at a lower cost, as well as top of the range facilities.

Private care homes are selective about who they offer accommodation to, to ensure their services can meet a care seeker’s particular needs.

2. Public

Public care homes are owned by the local council or authorities in the area. It is the duty and responsibility of that local authority to ensure that care providers are meeting elderly residents needs. Where once public care homes dominated the sector, in recent years they have withdrawn, due to the increasing number of privately owned care homes popping up all over the UK.

Lots of people believe that because public care homes are closely regulated, they, therefore, have better staff and better management. However, while it’s true that public care homes do stick to the rules and regulations of the local council, this does not necessarily mean that they are better than privately owned or volunteer-run homes.

3. Not-for-Profit

Voluntary care homes are run by non-profit organisations, which can include charities, religious organisations and housing associations. Sometimes voluntary care homes are started for a specific group of people. Less than 15% of care homes in the UK are run by voluntary organisations.

Homes are staffed by volunteers who share their time and skills in personal care with residents to help them build relationships and live happy, fulfilling lives, as well as offering information and free advice for future care seekers looking to move in. As with private care homes, voluntary sector homes can choose who they offer accommodation to.

Breakdown of Care Home Ownership

The different types of care home ownership can be broken down into the following groups:

  • Private – Run by individuals, public and private limited companies, care groups and partnerships, private care homes account for 84% of the beds in England’s care homes

  • Voluntary – Run by charities such as Greensleeves Care and MHA, religious organisations and housing associations, a small percentage of the UK’s care homes are voluntary

  • Public – Run by local authorities, local councils and the NHS, the number of publicly owned care and nursing homes is declining in the UK, in the wake of an increase in privately-owned homes

Care home ownership can also include hospices and private hospitals.

Number of Beds

The average care home has 39 beds, but there are nearly 1,000 smaller-sized care homes with ten beds or less. Smaller care homes are usually for very specific types of care, for example, Care in the Community, and if they are privately owned homes would not be regarded as commercial undertakings. On the other end of the spectrum, the largest UK care home has 225 beds, but there are just 250 care homes with 100 beds

Regional Breakdown of Care Homes

In the UK, you’ll find the largest concentrations of care homes in the North West, South East and South West of England, while Northern Ireland and the North East of England have the fewest numbers. Care homes are quite evenly spread across England and there are lots in London. There are also small numbers in more remote locations like the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man!

Lottie matches care seekers with the best care homes for their needs. You can request a free care home shortlist from our care experts, who will share homes matching your budget, location and type of care needed. You can also search for a care home through our easy-to-use directory.

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