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Elderly Persons (Residential Care)

Volume 977: debated on Thursday 31 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the number of persons in private institutions for the care of the elderly, both registered and unregistered.

Latest figures available—1978—indicated that in England some 52,000 persons were in registered and unregistered voluntary and private homes where at least 20 per cent. of the residents were aged 65 and over.There were also some 30,000 beds in private nursing homes registered under the Nursing Homes Act 1975, the majority if which were probably occupied by elderly people.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will introduce legislation to require the registration of all private institutions in which elderly persons are cared for, including in particular provisions to prevent persons either owning or on the staff of such institutions from being eligible to benefit from the persons in their care, either by way of gifts or through requests;(2) if he will set up an inquiry into private institutional care for elderly persons, in order to ensure that persons in such institutions are properly safeguarded from exploitation.

I am reviewing the arrangements for the registration of private and voluntary residential homes, and I expect to be holding consultations this year. However, no registration or other arrangements designed to promote standards in residential care will wholly remove the possibility of exploitation. To make the owners or staff of such institutions ineligible for benefit under the gifts or wills of residents would be a considerable restriction on the existing freedom of disposition of property. I shall, however, draw the suggestion to the attention of my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor.