Health and safety in care homes

Care homes differ from other workplaces because they are not only places of work but are also homes for their residents. It is therefore important that they are pleasant places where the freedom and dignity of residents is respected, and where everyone’s health and safety is sensibly and effectively managed.

They are owned and managed by a wide range of organisations, including local authorities, the NHS, and those from the private and voluntary sectors. This guidance is aimed at owners, providers and managers. It will also help safety representatives carry out their roles and responsibilities and may be of interest to employees.  

It describes the main health and safety risks found in care homes, and what should be done to protect both workers and those receiving care. Each chapter can be read in isolation, and has a ‘Find out more’ section, providing details of further information from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or other organisations.

At the end of each chapter there is a short list of key questions. This is not an exhaustive list, but is intended to help prompt your thinking about whether you are complying with the law and what more you might need to do.

For ease of reading, the term ‘resident’ is used throughout to refer to users of a service in a care home (eg patients, older people, and people with learning disabilities or mental health problems).

This guidance was revised during a period of change. The time of publication (June 2014) was before CQC became the lead investigator. However the appropriate standards remain the same, irrespective of which regulator investigates and enforces following cases of unsafe care. So this publication concentrates on providing practical guidance and does not provide extensive legal referencing, apart from short ‘Key legislation’ sections in each chapter.

The arrangements differ in the different countries of the UK

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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