The rationale behind the new Care Standards Bill is to improve the
standard of care services nationally in both public and private sectors and
to ensure that vulnerable adults get good care.
A national care standards commission will be established which will
register and regulate businesses providing care in institutional or
The commission will report to the Secretary of State on care matters and
suggest imp-rovements to care delivery and standards.
It will also actively encourage improve-ment in care standards and put
information on care services into the public domain.
A general social care council will be set up to register, regulate and
arrange training for those who deliver care in both institutional and
The council will promote high standards of conduct and practice and
training in care homes and domiciliary care agencies.
Each body will work under the direction of the Secretary of State, so
neither body can force through changes which will impose costs on the
Which businesses will be regulated?
The standards commission will regulate care homes and domiciliary care
agencies, including not-for-profit enterprises in the voluntary and public
sectors as well as for-profit enterprises.
A care home provides accommodation and personal or nursing care for people
who are or have been suffering from ill-ness or who are suffering from
disability or infirmity but does not include hospitals and clinics.
A domiciliary care agency arranges for personal care to be provided at
home for people who are suffering from illness, disability or infirmity.
Regulation in practice
It will be an offence for those carrying on business as or managing care
home or domicil-iary care agencies to provide services with-out
Repeat offences, or those committed after cancellation of registration,
could lead to imprisonment.
A registration may be cancelled if the terms are breached or if the person
holding the registration or man-aging the business is subsequently
convicted of a relevant offence.
The commission will be able to prosecute those who do not comply with or
who contravene the terms of their registration or who falsely claim they
Managers of care homes or domiciliary care agencies can be prosecuted
along with their employers if an offence is committed concerning their
agreement or as the result of their neglect.
Sticks and carrots in regulation
A register of care homes and domiciliary care agencies will be kept by the
National Care Commission and will be available to the public.
The compulsory registration of domiciliary care agencies will not start
immediately that the act comes into force but, once the act is in force,
local authorities will not be able to contract with unregistered care
suppliers or providers for care services.
Since the bill was published, the Government has indicated it will amend
it when it reaches the Commons to provide for compulsory regulation of all
domiciliary care agencies, not just those which want to provide local
What aspects of care services will be regulated?
The individuals and businesses that carry on or manage care homes and
domiciliary care agencies will be regulated. The premises used as care
homes and the facilities and services to be provided by them and the
premises used as domiciliary care agencies will be regulated.
The operational management and control of care homes and domiciliary care
agen-cies will be regulated, as will the number of staff who work in care
homes, the training they are required to under-take and the categories of
Minimum standards of care
The minister responsible for care homes and domiciliary care agencies may
prepare and publish minimum standards which are to apply to them. The
social care council may set out codes of practice which registered social
care workers should comply with. These codes of practice will be in the
Monitoring and controlling standards
The commission will be able to inspect care homes and domiciliary care
agencies without notice. An inspector can examine and copy records, remove
evidence and question both staff and residents. Reports of inspections
which take place must be made public.
The commission will be able to demand from a care home or domiciliary care
agency information which it considers relevant and registered businesses
will have to make yearly reports of their activities to the commission.
Which individuals will be registered?
The council will keep a register of social care workers, which includes
people working in care homes and those supplied by agencies and delivering
care services in people's homes.
To be registered as a social care worker, an individual must be of good
character, good physical and mental health and must satisfy the competence
and training requirements laid down both at the time of registration and
The register of social care workers will be open to inspection by the public.
Who will not have to register?
An individual who operates as an individual and works for him/herself in
providing domiciliary care services will not be obliged to register as a
social care worker. The supply of informal care might be seriously affected
if informal carers were obliged to register.
Who will be barred from registering to give care?
The Secretary of State will maintain a register of people who are regarded
as unsuitable to work with vulnerable adults, that is, adults needing
personal care at home or in a care home.
Operators of care homes and domiciliary care agen-cies will have to report
any individual who they believe should be included on the register as will
agencies providing supply staff.
Anyone wanting to employ a person to work with vulnerable adults will be
obliged to check the register and may not offer work with vulnerable adults
to anyone on the register.
Training and competence issues
The council will be able to approve training courses and to arrange for
exams to follow these courses for people to demonstrate their competence in
providing care services.
It will be able to visit and inspect places where courses and exams are
conducted. The council is also to encourage care workers to take relevant
courses, possibly offering financial help if required, and provide courses.
Where the act will apply
The act will apply to England and Wales. It will be up to the governments
of Scotland and Northern Ireland to decide whether they adopt similar