The UK care home sector is recovering following the initial impact of Covid-19, according to a research report by Knight Frank.

Despite occupancy rates dropping 8% to 80.2% as of mid-August compared to pre-pandemic levels, occupancy has been rising since July and confidence in the care home sector is beginning to return, researchers have evaluated.

The report surveyed 21 operators managing 1,391 care homes equating to almost 80,000 beds. It found that operators are preparing procedures for a second wave such as barrier nursing and stricter isolation measures.

Previous research by Knight Frank has found 6,500 care homes are at risk of closure in the next five years without significant investment in existing care homes.

Julian Evans, head of healthcare at Knight Frank, said the UK healthcare sectors – public and private – have shown “outstanding collaboration” and are prepared for a second wave.

He added: “Having scrambled exceptionally well given the lack of government support, the operators are now much more prepared for the potentially imminent risk of the second wave of the virus, with new procedures in place and higher volumes of PPE at their disposal.

“Despite the fantastic work of the UK healthcare sector, the pandemic has also unfortunately highlighted the lack of investment by successive governments into the sector, and therefore the urgent need to prioritise preventative and crisis funding. Covid-19 has merely accelerated trends to scrutinise those buildings that are not fit for purpose whilst emphasising the insufficient funding available for reinvestment into existing care homes, which has therefore expedited the number of potential care home closures. We are at a vital crossroads where we face a national bed crisis unless significant inward investment in the UK care home sector is made immediately.”

Pete Calveley, chief executive of Barchester Healthcare, added: “The social care sector has faced an unprecedented event. Without doubt our front-line staff have managed the situation with extraordinary courage. We’ve been through the eye of the storm but of course a Covid-19 rebound is a risk. That said we are well prepared for a rebound but do urge government to fully commit to provision of testing kit and PPE.”