Standards Act under fire

The Care Standards Act 2000 was last week heavily criticised for
failing adequately to address discrimination issues concerning age,
race and disability.

Speaking at an Age Concern conference in London, Professor
George Giarchi, emeritus professor of social care studies at the
University of Plymouth, said he was disappointed that race, age and
disability were not at the forefront of the Care Standards Act.

Addressing delegates at the National Care Standards conference
in London last week, Professor Giarchi said he had hoped the act
would make age discrimination its first standard in the same way as
the National Service Framework for Older People – published by the
government in March – has done.

But he told the conference that the act barely touched on these
issues and was distinctly lacking when it came to issues such as
age discrimination, providing person-centred care, promoting older
people’s health and independence and fitting services around
people’s needs.

He said: “Ageism is rife in health and social services. It’s a
pity that it’s not the first standard in the Care Standards Act.
Discrimination in all its forms – including age, disability, and
race should be addressed, but they are lacking in the act itself.
It’s very sad.”

Professor Giarchi also voiced concerns about the lack of
reference to ethnic discrimination and pointed out that older
people from ethnic minorities would suffer in some parts of the
country where there is a white majority, due to higher levels of

Gordon Lishman, director general, Age Concern England agreed
that the problem of ethnic discrimination could escalate in the
future. “At present there are very few ethnic minority service
users in the care system, even fewer in residential care

“However, the number of older people from ethnic minorities is
set to increase tenfold over the next 15 years. People need to be
addressing the issues around ageing and ethnicity now.”

Speaking about the conference, which was set up to help care
staff absorb the new standards and assist them in developing their
own strategies in time for when the majority of them come into
force in April 2002, Lishman said: “Now that we have the minimum
standards to hand – which we hope will drive up the quality of care
for many older people living in care homes – it is important that
the industry is fully aware of their implications.”

The 38 standards for all care homes for older people in England
being bought about by the act set requirements relating to choice
of home, health and personal care, daily life and social
activities, complaints and protection, environment, staffing,
management, and administration.

– The UK director of specialist healthcare valuers Pinders,
urged home owners not to panic about implementing the minimum
standards for care, which will mostly come into effect from April
2002 and apply to all residential and nursing homes.

John Chapman advised delegates not to “bury their heads in the
sand” in the hope that the act will go away, but to face up to the
changes that they might have to make to their home.

Sorting out a plan of action, getting it costed and working out
how worthwhile the changes would be, was his advice to the more
than 70 delegates.

Using room size as an example he also advised home owners
against simply opting for the minimum requirements, reminded them
that there would always be other homes offering better services and
urged them to take this into account when re-evaluating their

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