Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Residential care for elderly people: a decade of change.

British Medical Journal 1993; 306 doi: (Published 27 March 1993) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1993;306:827
  1. M C Stern,
  2. C Jagger,
  3. M Clarke,
  4. J Anderson,
  5. C McGrother,
  6. T Battock,
  7. C McDonald
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Leicester, Leicester Royal Infirmary.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine the changes between 1979 and 1990 in demography and dependency levels in elderly people in residential care. DESIGN--Censuses of those aged 65 years and over in any type of residential care at midnight on 11 December 1979 and 27 November 1990. SETTING--Leicestershire District Health Authority (population 865,133, 1991 census), coterminous with county and social services boundaries. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Age, sex, length of stay, and dependency levels (measured by activities of daily living). RESULTS--In 1990 (1979), 6079 (4678) elderly people were enumerated in 241 (133) establishments, a 30% increase in the numbers of elderly people in residential care and an 82% increase in the number of establishments between 1979 and 1990. Dependency levels rose between 1979 and 1990 in all but the geriatric sector, the greatest increases being found in private residential homes where the largest percentage increase in the number of residents had occurred. CONCLUSIONS--Dependency levels in residential care have risen substantially, particularly in the private sector, even beyond levels expected from the greater numbers of elderly people. With the impending move to community care, dependency levels are likely to rise further, and more appropriate staff training and medical input to homes will become necessary.