Regulations ‘stripping away choice and independence of older people’

Strict standards and regulations are affecting the quality of
care older people receive, according to a government task

In a report on social care regulation published this week, the
Better Regulation Task Force says prescriptive regulation is taking
away the choice and independence of older people.

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

As an example, it cites the regulation that specifies the
maximum temperature of bath water in care homes as taking the
decision away from the individual. 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

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

“We think the risk goes beyond health and safety and

risk to other aspects of the person’s independence.”

Lowe added that volunteers who provided occasional visiting and
befriending services to older people had experienced problems
because their services had been classified as domiciliary care and
become subject to the relevant regulations.

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

Bridging the Gap – Participation in Social Care

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