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There is currently an enormous amount of debate concerning the future of the care industry and perhaps the one thing everyone is agreed ont is that the current social care system is failing and needs changing.

With specific regard to those needing residential care, an ageing population means that the situation will only get worse.  Statistics suggest that whilst we are living longer, we can expect to have more years in poor health.  Between 1981 and 2004, life expectancy in the UK has increased by 5.7 years for men and by 4.2 years for women.  During the same period the number of years a person can expect to live in poor health has increased to 8.6years (men) and 10.7 years (women).

Currently there are approximately 370,000 people living in care and nursing homes in the UK and it is highly likely that the demand for places will increase (some surveys suggest up to 444,000 people living in residential care by 2017).

And with the means-testing threshold set so low - the current limits effectively exclude everyone who owns a house - thousands of people each year are forced to sell their homes if they need residential care.

The Government has published Shaping the Future of Care Together, which has encouraged a national debate on the reform of adult care and support in England.

The document spells out a vision for a National Care Service, the options for  reform, and how the new system could be organised and paid for. The full document is available here:

National Care Service

In short the proposal suggests that everyone can expect the following:

  • The right to get the correct support to help you stay independent and well for as long as possible
  • A standardized and simplified assessment throughout the UK
  • The provision of clear, concise information on the care system and your rights
  • Specific, tailored care and support that you can choose and control
  • Fair and proper funding for all who need it

National Minimum Standards for Care Homes for Older People

The national minimum standards set out the requirements that apply to all care homes providing accommodation, nursing and personal care to the elderly. (the full report is available here: link to min standards report)

The themes that underpin the national minimum standards are:

  • focus on service user (do the standards lead to a positive outcome for user)
  • fitness for purpose (of staff and premises)
  • comprehensiveness
  • meeting assessment needs
  • quality service
  • quality workforce


It sets out the basis for which the New Care Standards Commission will determine whether these care homes meet the needs, and secure the welfare and social inclusion of the people who live there.

The standards are grouped under seven key topics and are designed to benefit the residents standard of living and lives. The categories are:

  • Choice of home
  • Health and personal care
  • Daily life and social activities
  • Complaints and protection
  • Environment
  • Staffing
  • Management and administration


The standards are qualitative, and provide a benchmark for regulators to judge the care homes. They are also designed to be measurable and inspectorates will look for evidence that these targets are met and therefore ensure that residents are enjoying a good standard of living.