The government has announced it is pushing ahead with a review of care home standards.
More than 500,000 people are looked after in care homes
Ministers promised the National Minimum Standards would be assessed within three years when they came into force in April 2002.
The National Care Homes Association has called for major reform, saying the 247 separate rules are "too bureaucratic".
Community care minister Stephen Ladyman did not say how far-reaching it would be but said he wanted more "clarity".
The review will be completed in 2006.
Dr Ladyman told the association's annual conference in Norwich: "I know you all feel red tape and regulations get in the way of care provision but I can tell you I get a dozen letters asking me to do more inspections and carry out more checks on staff for every one telling me to cut red tape."
He said he wanted to see a regulatory system that worked in the best interest of those using the service and more thought should be given to quality services and how to distinguish high quality care homes from those that barely meet the standards.
And he added: "Inspection needs to be targeted where improvement is needed, while still reassuring people on safety."
The standards cover every aspect of the homes from the meals provided to the quality of the rooms and care, although some of the requirements do not need to be met for another three years.
While the majority of the 500,000 people in private and council-run care homes in England are elderly, the standards also apply to homes for anyone over 18.
The Commission for Social Care Inspection inspects the homes to make sure they meet the necessary requirements.
But the association has often been critical of the standards, which it has said has created a "bureaucratic mess".
Some of the tougher measures covering the infrastructure of the homes were dropped last year after some homes said they would have to close.
Assocation chairman Nadra Ahmed said she was delighted by the announcement and looked forward to the reform of the standards.
"With 247 separate standards plus the care home regulations to comply with, many home owners are buried in paperwork instead of being able to concentrate on providing good quality care to the elderly and vulnerable, those with learning disabilities and the disabled.
"While the care sector has always supported the need for regulation as a way of standardising and monitoring care properly, we have consistently maintained that the emphasis should be on monitoring the quality of care being provided - it's not about ticks in boxes."