Over two-thirds of over-60s would refuse to move into a care home, study finds

Nearly seven in ten Brits aged 60 or older (68%) would refuse to move into a care home in later life – as 25% have their doubts as to whether care facilities are safe environments, a study has found.

A poll of 1,300 adults over 60 years old found that eight in ten say maintaining independence is the most important thing to them in their later years – and 85% worry they would lose this if they were living in a care home.

Similarly, 67% believe they would not be able to continue to do the things they love if they were in the care industry – which is a top priority for 71% during their twilight years.

And 62% fear their quality of life would diminish in a home – with 64% saying that the care industry needs to do more to demonstrate that quality of life actually improves for residents, in order to rebuild the public's trust.

The research, commissioned by Sanctuary Care, also found that less than a third of over-60s currently have a clear care plan in place for later life.

Some of the top reasons for pushing aside later life planning include one in four feeling as though they have “more pressing things to worry about” – while 18% simply don't want to admit they are getting old.

Sarah Clarke-Kuehn, chief operating officer for the not-for-profit care home provider, said: “It is no secret that the care sector has been through an incredibly challenging time, and this has had an impact on the public’s perception of care homes.

“It is important to understand the honest opinions of those who might require care home services in the coming years, so that we can continue to rebuild faith and trust in the sector.

“We understand that moving yourself or a loved one into a care home may stir up a range of emotions, as it signals a change for any family.

“However, we know our care homes are caring, safe, and empowering communities, which enrich the lives of residents, and provide families much-needed peace of mind.”

Those polled were asked how care homes can rebuild trust with the public, with 67% wanting to see an adequate number of staff to cope with the demand – as 39% worry that staff shortages in the care industry could impact their later life.

And 53% need to know lessons have been learnt from the pandemic, with plans in place to ensure residents will be safe if there’s another spike in cases.

Others are considering alternative plans for later life, with 45% of over-60s trying to save enough to afford care assistance in their own home.

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A further 41% would consider downsizing their current property so it is more manageable, and 15% are even thinking about moving closer to their children, so they can be on hand to help them in later life.

However, of those with kids, 51% are worried they might become a financial or physical burden to their children as they get older.

And almost three-quarters (73%) are yet to discuss plans for later life with their children – with 48% avoiding the conversation because they don’t feel ready yet, while 35% don’t want to worry them.

The study, conducted via OnePoll, also revealed how respondents’ priorities for later life have changed as they have got older.

Exactly three-quarters of over-60s ranked being able to remain active as the most important thing they want in their golden years, while financial stability is essential for 70%, and 54% want to ensure they still have a purpose in later life.

Sarah Clarke-Kuehn, from Sanctuary Care, which has produced a documentary series addressing perceptions of care homes, added: “There are so many things to consider as we age, ranging from financial and emotional support, to what really matters to us.

“We know it can be difficult to think about this, but having these conversations early, and considering all options available, should enable a smoother transition into later life.”

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