Let the elderly in care keep their own furniture to make it feel like home, says minister

  • Allowing their possessions about them reassures old people in homes

  • 25,000 care homes will be subjected to a ‘robust’ inspection scheme
  • Care should be ‘personalised’ especially for those with dementia 

By Tania Steere For Daily Mail


Care homes should be fitted with the curtains, bedspreads and furniture of their occupants to try to make them a ‘civilised’ home from home, according to the Care Minister.

Norman Lamb warned last night that many residents, especially those with dementia, feel alienated and confused when ‘plunged into’ an unfamiliar environment.

The Daily Mail has waged a long-running Dignity for the Elderly campaign for better standards in hospitals and care homes.

Mr Lamb said that from October 25,000 care homes will be subjected to a ‘robust’ inspection scheme to check whether they are creating a ‘real sense of the individual’s home’.

He told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The whole focus needs to be on personalising care as much as possible.

Care: Norman Lamb wants residential homes to undergo a rigorous inspection

‘For everyone, but particularly for those with dementia, it is particularly important to focus on things that are familiar and enable people to create a link back to their life before entering a care home.

‘A willingness to take a bit of furniture, bedspreads, curtains, whatever it might be that creates that link can be incredibly important in civilising care homes and making them a real home for someone rather than an austere, alien environment.’ He added: ‘Having your own possessions can be critical in reassuring someone with dementia and in making them feel at home.

‘Flexibility has to be key, and whatever works for that individual is what the care home should be focusing on.’

Care homes that don’t make the grade in the inspections can be put into ‘special measures’ – under which they have to improve or face closure. The care home watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, admitted this month that it has, in the past, failed the elderly and vulnerable because it feared legal action from privately-run care homes.

Mr Lamb added: ‘We are introducing these much more robust inspections and ratings of care homes and I think those care homes that create a real sense of an individual’s home will be the ones with the great ratings.’

Lesley Carter, the policy programme manager for social care at charity Age UK, said that the elderly would benefit from having their own things around them.

She said: ‘They might not recognise it as their own but it would feel familiar as they touched it and it would evoke memories.’

Being able to personalise their care with furniture and knick-knacks could be the difference between a sad OAP (left) in a care home and one that feels comfortable (right) in their new surroundings (File photos)

The head of the Care Quality Commission said in an interview with the Telegraph earlier this month it has too often ‘backed off’ from trying to close unsafe homes and ‘tended not to fight back’ when was legally challenged.

David Prior, chairman of CQC, vowed to change its approach, to be ‘much more robust’ in taking on poor providers of care.

He said its own data suggests that at least 750 care homes providing care to elderly and disabled people have been failing to hit at least one basic standard for more than a year.