08th December 2016
We have found that 70% of care homes with ‘old age’ provision do not offer internet access to residents. We wanted to understand whether broadband infrastructure is a key barrier to providing high-quality internet access to residents.
We matched the postcodes from Ofcom data on fixed-line broadband speed and availability to the postcodes of over 18,500 care homes across the UK.(1)
With this, we could see how many care homes in the UK are in postcodes that have poor quality broadband, and what internet speeds they had access to.
What we did
We analysed data linked to 18,538 care homes, covering the whole spectrum of size, care provision and ownership. We found that 2931 (15.8%) are in postcodes with no superfast broadband availability (defined as speeds exceeding 30Mbit/s). This is broadly in line with national average for premises that have no superfast broadband availability which sits at 17%.
This broadband data does not relate to individual premises, so these figures only account for areas where we can be certain that every single premise is unable to receive the service. This means that our findings may be conservative, especially considering that just 65.68% of care homes are in postcodes where 100% of premises can access superfast broadband.
We also discovered that almost a thousand (985) care homes were in postcodes where 100% of premises are unable to receive speeds of 10Mbit/s, the minimum speed that Ofcom recommends for a standard residential consumer. And this did appear to affect homes of a certain size more than others. We found that 9.31% of homes with between 51 and 75 beds are in these postcodes compared to 5.31% of the total number of homes.
Aside from this, there were no other statistically relevant differences by size, or whether a care home was run by the NHS, privately or on a charitable basis. There was also no difference between care homes generally and those specialising in “old age” provision.
What we found out
Our research shows that care homes are as likely to be able or unable to receive broadband as a residential home, regardless of whether they are public, private, charity or specialising in services for old age. It does highlight however the number without access to superfast broadband.
This is something that needs to be solved for everyone in the UK, but it’s particularly problematic for homes with many more residents than the average family home, with staff and residents potentially using multiple devices for high-bandwidth activities such as Skype calls and streaming video.
With a rapidly ageing population and a next generation of care home residents that will expect to be able to use technology as they have most of their lives, it’s a problem that needs to be prioritised now, before it becomes an even bigger issue in the future.
(1) Unfortunately as we are using a private data set for this analysis, we are unable to make the data publicly available.
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