We have announced the conclusions the Government have reached in relation to the physical standards in residential and nursing homes based on the responses to the consultation process Fit for the Future? These are:
the standard for single rooms in existing care homes will be 10 sq m from 2007;
the standard for single rooms in new care homes will be 12 sq m from 2002;
wheelchair users should have rooms of 12 sq m and door widths of 800mm for their own accommodation and communal rooms;
each resident should, in addition to the above, have a minimum of 4.1 sq m of communal day space within the care home;
shared rooms in existing homes may constitute no more than 20 per cent of overall resident places from 2002.
To ensure flexibility for existing provision that does not meet all these standards but is otherwise of good quality, specific criteria will be set out over the standard relating to room sizes to allow some rooms which do not currently meet the 10 sq m standard to remain in use. These criteria will include:
an expectation that no room should fall below 9.3 sq m (equivalent to 100 sq ft) provided compensatory space either in the form of en-suite facilities or additional communal day space which residents can use individually if they wish is made available;
homes which provide spacious individual rooms but do not currently meet the standard of 4.1 sq m communal space per resident will be allowed to meet a lower minimum of 3.7 sq m.
The net result should be that a total space of 14.1 sq m per resident is provided, with some flexibility about how it is deployed.
The standards for nine out of the 11 topic areas that we consulted upon in Fit for the Future? received overwhelming support and these will form the basis for the full set of national minimum standards which the Government will publish later this year.
We have written to honourable and right honourable Members as well as to the residential and nursing home organisations and other relevant bodies which have made representations on these issues.