19 January 2024

2023 Care Home Market Review

2023 was a challenging year for the care home sector, faced with an onslaught of increased costs and falling demand.

Overall enquiry volumes for the year were down 18.4% compared with 2022.

As stated in our half year review, we believe several key factors lead to this drop in enquiries:

  • Cost of living pressures
  • Public sector strikes
  • Self-employed Carers

Although the headline statement is downbeat there is cause for optimism. Occupancy across our partners has risen throughout 2023; averaging 77.9% in January it grew steadily throughout the year to reach 86.5% by December.

Average weekly fees for admissions also increased, averaging £1,319.70 in January, rising to £1,390.89 per week in December, an increase of 5.4% for the year.

What does the data say?

Between January and December, our contact centre took over 50,000 care enquiries on behalf of 42 different operators. For this report, we have chosen to look at 34 operators and collectively compare their data from 2022 to 2023 to identify the change differences. These operators span the market, from those more aligned to the Local Authority market, to those who target only self-funding individuals.

Enquiry profile for 2023

Overall, the number of enquiries our partners received was down by 18.4% when compared to 2022, and was most acutely felt during the first half of the year.

The most significant drops in enquiries occurred in what would be the traditional season for respite enquiries – March, April, and August.

It is also worth highlighting that during March and April, both Nurses and Junior Doctors staged a series of coordinated strikes, during which point the overall number of Local Authority funded and NHS funded care packages dropped significantly.

Enquiry types

Enquiries of all types have fallen throughout 2023 however there are a few standout categories which are worth highlighting.


As mentioned previously, the respite market in 2023 was lower than 2022 with noticeable declines in the spring and summer periods.

Many of the families we took tentative enquiries for early in the year (who were looking for summer holiday cover), changed their plans and closed their enquiries as the summer approached. Many sighted changes and scaling back of their holiday plans, and many more stated they had arranged informal support from family and friends.

Speculative enquiries

When we take an enquiry on behalf of our partners, one of the questions asked of the care seeker is how they are planning to fund the care package. This falls into several categories:

  • Self-funders
  • State funders (LA / CHC)
  • Unsure

We typically find that people who are unsure as to their funding entitlements or options are generally earlier on in their care search. When looking at enquiry data between 2022 and 2023, this is the largest group of enquiries who have fallen away throughout the year.

We started to see a significant decrease in the number of families unsure of their funding status from March onwards compared with the previous year - this points to a reduction of speculative enquiries.

Coincidently from early Spring 2023 the Bank of England (BoE) started to increase the base rate to fend off inflation. The blue line on the graph above shows how the rate increased alongside the rise and fall of care seeker funding types.

Although we cannot say that the two are linked, it is highly suggestive that as family budgets were put under pressure, this likely had an impact on the number of speculative or early-stage enquiries made to care homes.


When taking a care enquiry on behalf of our partners we will always ask the enquirer “How did you hear about our home”. This data is different from where the enquiry originated from, and what we consider to be a better source of truth.

We often find a call originating from a channel (for example PPC), is different from the answer given to “How did you hear about our home”. For example, they may have called on PPC, but say they received a leaflet through the post. Although PPC is important in this customer journey, they were already looking for the home and would likely have called if no PPC campaign was running, just from another platform or channel.

The table below categorises care-seekers responses and shows the average conversion rate our partners achieved from each referrer type in 2023.

How did you hear about our home? Referrer % Avg. Conversion Rate
Previously used the care home 0.6% 58.14%
Healthcare professional - GP, District nurses, OT etc. 0.6% 30.78%
Hospital Referral 1.0% 29.15%
Local Advert / Event 0.2% 27.68%
Other Community Groups & Organisations 4.3% 24.63%
Home Known Locally 12.4% 23.98%
Family / Friend of Resident Recommendation 10.8% 22.15%
Social Worker Referral / Recommendation 3.5% 22.05%
Employee / Previous Employee Recommendation 0.3% 17.20%
Recommended by another care service 0.9% 16.50%
CQC Website 0.6% 15.95%
Literature / Signage 0.2% 14.43%
Google Search 21.2% 10.36%
Local Door Drops 0.2% 8.20%
Providers Website 26.6% 7.55%
Google Maps / Bing Places 0.2% 6.75%
Online Care Directory 15.6% 5.05%
Social Media 0.8% 4.18%

Digital channels and platforms accounted for over 60% of referrals to our partners, however had a combined conversion rate of 9%.

Local reputation and recommendations accounts for 32% of referrals to our partners, however had a combined conversion rate of a little over 24%.

Referrers as a group (which contains healthcare professionals, hospital discharge teams and social workers) accounted for just over 5% of referrals we took yet had an average conversion rate of 28%.


As part of our enquiry process, we track key timelines in the customer’s journey; average days to visit, assessment and ultimately placement.

The tables below provide a breakdown of these key milestones in the enquiry journey and how they compared with 2022.

Avg. Days Visit Assessment Placement
2023 6 9 13
2022 8 15 21

The table below shows the average days to placement across the different enquiry funding types.

Self-funders Local Authoirty LA + Top up CHC Funded
20 10 13 8

Speed of response and appointment booking is key in the advancement of care enquiries.

It is completely possible to achieve a visit booking rate of above 40% for qualifying enquiry on the initial call with the care seeker.

Furthermore, of the visits that took place within our partner homes, 64.1% on average went on to assessment.

We believe that the higher needs of individuals moving into care homes is shown in the 38% decrease in days from enquiry to admission from 2022 to 2023. Families and healthcare professionals are making decisions faster.

Conversion Rates

The average conversion rate on enquiries recorded across our partners in 2023 was 24.7%.

However, there are significant variations in the conversion rate based on the referral source, care type, funding type and stay duration. The tables below break this down:

Referrer Type Conversion Rate
Professional Recommendation – GP, Hospital, Social Worker 28.6%
Local Reputation – friends and family recommendation 24.3%
Paid Media – e.g. door drop, local advert etc. 21.2%*
Digital – Google search, PPC, care directories 9.1%

* Although paid media has a good conversion rate, the record count (less than 100) is a tiny proportion of the wider data set used for this report which looks at 27,886 records.

Care Type Conversion Rate
Nursing 28.35%
Residential 14.60%
Funding Type Conversion Rate
CHC Funded 35.8%
Privately Funded 23.8%
Local Authority Funded 20.9%
Local Authority + Top-up 18.8%
Duration of Care Conversion Rate
Respite 23.2%
Permanent 21.4%

Key Takeaways

  • Overall enquiry volumes were 18% down when compared to 2022.
  • Less speculative / early-stage enquiries were made to homes. Possibly impacted by interest rate rises and cost of living pressures.
  • Less respite enquiries were made in Spring and Summer.
  • Digital channel accounted for over 60% of enquiries but with only a 9% conversion rate.
  • Enquiries which come through Local Reputation and Referrers typically convert at 26.4% across all care and funding types.
  • Average days to placement decreased by 8 days (38%)
  • Occupancy increased from an average of 77.9% to 86.5%
  • Average weekly fees at the point of admission increased by 5.4%

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