Private and Voluntary Health Care (England) and Care Home Regulations 2001

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Dr. Harris: The Minister says that that refers to unmarried couples. She uses the term ''husband and wife''. Am I to understand that it does not apply to couples of the same sex, who may have been living together for 20 years as a couple and, indeed, raised children?

Jacqui Smith: If the hon. Gentleman is asking whether it is important that care homes have consideration of close relatives in regard to contact and the record of complaints, I can say that I believe

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that it is. As he knows, the issue of same-sex relationships is receiving much attention in the broader context of Government policy and we are making considerable progress on it.

The hon. Gentleman also raised the important issues of service users guides and the transparency of fees. It is important that the regulations provide that service users guides require that service users know the basis on which they are charged fees. The standards underpinning the regulations require a full statement of terms and conditions of a placement and spell out rights and obligations. It must cover the fees payable and, as I have made clear, a nursing home would need to make explicit how it passed on to its users the benefits of the significant investment that the Government have made into free nursing care.

Dr. Harris: I will not be drawn on the issue of whether the disbursement is significant and what that means, but have the standards to which the Minister has referred been, or will they be, published?

Jacqui Smith: The standards for older people have certainly been published—in March 2001. They spell out the service users guides and the need for some of the other provisions that I was talking about.

On regulation 16(2) (m), I believe that democratic activities are covered by local, social and community activities and by the improvements that the

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Government have made to the availability of postal votes. The hon. Member for Worthing, West made an important point about adult placement. The limit for adult placements is now three people. The Government consulted on the basis that the definition of adult placements should be reduced to two service users but we accepted the genuine concern that that would cause difficulties and amended the regulation to allow all adult placement carers to take up to three service users.

Peter Bottomley: That is a welcome concession. Some people may wish that the figure had been higher, but to move from two to three people will be a significant change for several operators.

Jacqui Smith: I am sure that hon. Members have also noted the range of ways in which the regulatory framework for adult placements is much lighter than for other care homes.

We have had a good debate. We have considered in detail the way in which the standards and regulations will maintain and improve quality and ensure that we put users' needs at the centre of the regulatory process.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

    That the Committee has considered the Care Home Regulations 2001 (SI 2001, No. 3965).

        Committee rose at two minutes to Seven o'clock.

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The following Members attended the Committee:
Cran, Mr. James (Chairman)
Bottomley, Peter
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burns, Mr.
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Fabricant, Michael
Fitzpatrick, Jim

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Harris, Dr. Evan
Lamb, Norman
Lepper, Mr.
Shaw, Mr.
Shipley, Ms
Smith, Jacqui
Ward, Ms
Wilshire, Mr.

The following also attended, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(2):

Fisher, Mr. Mark (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

 
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