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Resident Rights

Elderly persons are often the target of discrimination, mistreatment and abuse, as they are perceived as "easy targets". From the choice of a care home to the protection of a person's rights, it is important for elderly persons to understand what their rights are, how to lodge complaints when they are violated, and most importantly, the importance of speaking to someone when they feel their rights have been infringed upon.

Resident Rights
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Practical information

> Choice of a care home

Every care home in the United Kingdom must be registered with the national regulatory organization. They must also be monitored and inspected on a regular basis, and the reports are available from the national regulatory body for your county.

Elderly people have the right to choose their retirement home, and no one can tell the person where to live. You have the right to move into any home as long as it has the space available, is suitable for your needs, that the home has a contractual relationship with the local authority, and that the costs associated with the home are within local council standards for payment.

If you are entering a fully funded NHS care home, your rights are somewhat more limited. While it is difficult to get full NHS funding, if you succeed the NHS will take care of arranging your stay, taking into consideration some of your concerns.

> Tools to Protect Rights

In 2008, as part of the Health and Social Care Act, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was set up to enforce standards in care homes, and in 2010 introduced the Guidance About Compliance, Essential Standards of Quality and Safety, which covers care home standards.

The CQC evaluates six key areas, which include: involvement and information; personalised care, treatment and support; safeguarding and safety; suitability of staffing; quality and management; and suitability of management. The CQC can investigate and enforce changes on service providers and carry out reviews. It also keeps a list of regulated care homes, and this list is available via CQC offices or on the web.

Other options are available to protect an elderly person's rights. These can include complaint to the service provider, through the Local Council that owns the care home, through the Local Council Ombudsman, through the NHS (when the NHS makes the arrangements for stay), through Local Government Ombudsmen.

Starting in 2005, all residents of Council/NHS care homes are covered by the Human Rights Act (1998), changes which came into force in 2008. The Equality Advisory and Support Service can help in cases of perceived discrimination based on age, disability, and other areas covered by the Human Rights Act.

Questions and answers

What should a resident do if there are problems with hygiene or security?Show

A resident can first complain about hygiene or security/safety problems with the manager of the care home.  If this does not fix the issue, they may then approach the Local Council (if the home is contracted by the Council), the Local Council/Government Ombudsman or the Care Quality Commission.

Can residents smoke?Show

The residents have the right to smoke in their bedrooms or a designated smoking room if the manager of the care home has provided the proper infrastructure as per outline in the Government’s 2007 Smoke-free policy.

Can a resident bring their pets?Show

Pets are allowed in care homes if the management of the home allows for it. It is important for an elderly person wishing to bring a pet to verify this when visiting potential care homes. There are community organisations that can take pets if an elderly person must give it up.


Local Council / Government OmbudsmenShow

A free service, the Local Council Ombudsman examines complaints about Councils and other organisations, including education admissions appeal panels and adult social care providers (such as care homes and home care providers) to investigate complaints.

Care Quality Commission (CQC)Show

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) ensures that hospitals, care homes, dental and GP surgeries, and all other care services in the United Kingdom provide people with safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care, and can encourage/force them to make improvements.

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