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Wednesday, October 7, 1998 Published at 01:15 GMT 02:15 UK


Quality standards for care homes

The King's Fund booklet sets out quality standards for care homes

People often do not know how to judge whether a residential care home is good or bad, according to the health charity the King's Fund.

The charity is launching a booklet aimed at helping relatives, carers and the elderly find their way round the complicated world of residential care.

The booklet, entitled More Luck than Judgement, sets out quality standards for care homes for the elderly and is one of a number of initiatives to improve quality across the country.

Currently, there are no national standards for care homes and local authority care homes are not subject to independent inspection or enforceable regulations.

Community care organisations say this means standards can vary widely across the country, creating a lottery of care.

The government is thought to be proposing changes to this in its forthcoming White Paper on Social Services, but this may not be passed in the present session of Parliament.

Informed questions

"The booklet looks at what makes a home a good or bad place and suggests what to look for when you see round a home and what questions to ask so you can find out if it is suitable," said a spokesman for the King's Fund.

He added that many people did not feel they had much choice in which care homes they or their relatives should go to.

They were simply sent a list of local authority homes in their area. Investigating each one properly could take time which people often did not have, he added.

The booklet points out things to look out for, such as the arrangement of chairs in a home.

This can show whether residents are left staring at each other all day or are offered a choice of activities.


It touches on the issue of residents' rights, such as to what extent residents should be involved in decisions over their care.

However, this issue is legally unclear at the moment as care groups are awaiting the outcome of the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care as well as publication of the government's proposed long-term care charter.

"Those are the big things and we are looking at the smaller things which can make a big difference to a person's time in residential care," said the King's Fund spokesman.

The booklet also contains lists of addresses and contacts which can give advice to people looking for residential care homes.

It is available from many bookshops and from the King's Fund, price £5.95, on 0171 307 2591.

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