Regulation prevents older people deciding on their own care

Strict standards and regulations in social care services are
preventing older people from receiving good care, according to the
government’s Better Regulation Task Force, writes
Paul Stephenson

In a report on social care regulation published yesterday, the task
force says prescriptive regulation is taking away the choice and
independence of older people.

It calls for the strict regulations and standards to be dropped for
a more flexible approach, and for older people to have much more
say in handling the risks they face.

It gives, as an example, the regulation that specifies the maximum
temperature of bath water in care homes which prevents individuals
from choosing to have a warmer bath. It also says that the
classification of helping someone out of a chair or to go to the
bathroom as personal care has caused problems for volunteers.

Task force chair David Arculus said: “We believe that the
people who use social care should be the ultimate arbiters of what
is right for them – that regulation should be done with people, not
to them.”

Age Concern social care policy officer Stephen Lowe said some of
the charity’s volunteer-provided chiropody services had
fallen foul of regulations that required office phones or
out-of-hour contacts, and some had closed down as a result.

“The standards ought to be appropriate to the
circumstances,” Lowe said. “We are not against
regulation, but it has to be appropriate. What we have said about
risk is that the user or resident ought to have a say in the nature
of the risk they take.

“We think that the risk goes beyond health and safety and
includes risk to other aspects of the person’s

Lowe also said volunteers providing visiting and befriending
services to older people on an occasional basis had had problems
because their services had been classified as domiciliary care and
become subject to the relevant regulations.

The review recommends people who live in care homes should
participate in a review of the national minimum standards.


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