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What Rights Do Residents Have in a Care Home?

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

A move to a care home can be a great help to some elderly people, such as those who are experiencing advanced dementia and can’t be cared for safely at home.

However, problems can occur with care home living. Family members might disagree about what’s best for their elderly loved one, or the care home and family members might come into conflict. Relatives might wonder whether care homes are allowed to forbid certain activities. In some cases, a care home might even ask a resident to leave.

When disputes occur, residents and their families should be aware that they have rights that care homes must respect. So, what rights do residents have in a care home? In this post, we’ll answer some common questions involving the rights of elderly care home residents and their families, including issues around removing elderly residents from a home and visiting residents in a home.

First, a note on mental capacity and why it matters

In some situations, the answer about what rights an elderly person has in a care home depends on their mental capacity.

We’ve discussed mental capacity in some previous articles, such as our piece on moving someone to a care home against their will. Essentially, if a person has mental capacity regarding a particular decision, they have the ability to understand and weigh up the factors involved in that decision and communicate their decision to someone.

The right to decide where you live

Older people with more advanced dementia or brain injuries from strokes might not have the mental capacity to make decisions about some aspects of living in a care home. If they wish to leave but are not safe living on their own, they may be subject to a deprivation of liberty order that forces them to remain in a care home.

Since the liberty to live where you want is a basic human right, older people can’t be denied that right without the proper legal procedures for deprivation of liberty. These are called the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. However, the government has introduced new procedures called the Liberty Protection Safeguards, which are not yet in effect as of February 2024 but may come into effect in the future.

The right to make decisions

Ideally, a senior newly diagnosed with dementia will draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney to allow a loved one to make decisions when the senior no longer can. If no Lasting Power of Attorney was drawn up and the older person has lost mental capacity, that can make things more complicated when conflicts arise relating to residence in a care home. Disputes may even end up going to the Court of Protection.

When a family member or care professional needs to make decisions for a person who doesn’t have mental capacity, they need to follow the rules set out in the Mental Capacity Act.

Can a nursing home evict a resident in the UK?

Can a nursing home evict a resident? UK government guidance on consumer rights for care home residents says that it can, but proper procedures need to be followed.

In general, a care home needs to explain its rules clearly in the contract that’s signed when a person enters the home. That includes explaining why a person might be asked to leave.

According to government guidance, the care home needs to:

  • Give a “valid reason” for the eviction.
  • Talk to the elderly person and their family and carers before the eviction.
  • Inform them about the eviction in writing and give them at least 28 days’ notice.

Can a care home stop me visiting?

The Care Quality Commission offers guidance on the rights of care home residents to receive visitors.

In general, care home residents do have rights to see visitors. It’s important to know that care homes cannot ban visitors as punishment if a resident or family member makes a complaint.

However, care homes also have safeguarding responsibilities to their residents. If a senior has mental capacity and the care home believes a visitor is dangerous to them, the care home might have to contact the local council or take legal action to fulfil their safeguarding duties.

If the elderly resident does not have mental capacity, the usual rules apply, according to the Mental Capacity Act. Some of these rules are that the decision has to be in the older person’s best interest and it has to restrict their freedom and rights as little as possible. Since denying a person’s ability to see visitors is a significant restriction on a person’s freedom, the care home would need a very compelling reason to do so that was in the resident’s best interest.

Can I take my mum out of a care home to see family?

If an older person has mental capacity, they have the right to leave if they want to. Each care home has different contracts with different rules, but a good care home should not discourage an older person from leaving for a visit with family without a very good reason.

However, if the elderly person is very unwell, it’s possible that the care home might see them leaving as a safeguarding issue if the family doesn’t have the ability to provide the necessary level of care.

Also, if the older person does not have mental capacity and has designated a family member their attorney through a Lasting Power of Attorney, that family member would have the right to say the older person couldn’t leave with another member of the family. If disputes arise in this situation, the care home might try to address the issue with mediation. In the worst case, the disagreement might have to go to court if others feel the attorney is not acting in the elderly person’s best interest.

Can I take my mother out of a care home in the UK?

If an elderly person has mental capacity, they cannot be prevented from leaving the home if they want to. That would be a breach of their human rights.

If an older person does not have mental capacity and is under a deprivation of liberty order with no Lasting Power of Attorney drawn up, the situation is different. The deprivation of liberty procedure now means that the care home can make the decision about where the elderly person is safest. A family member wanting to remove their elderly relative would likely need to explain where they want to move their relative and show that this is a safe environment. In the worst case, they might even need to prove this is in their relative’s best interest in court.

This is another reason why it’s so important for an older person to make a Lasting Power of Attorney while they have mental capacity. If a family member who has Lasting Power of Attorney wants to remove an older person without mental capacity from a care home, they are in a much stronger position.

How personal alarms can protect seniors in care homes and at home

You might already know that personal alarms for the elderly are great protection for elderly people living independently. But they’re also a great additional layer of security for older people who have carers or live in a care home.

For example, falls can be very dangerous for the elderly. They’re even more concerning for older people with dementia who may not be able to call for help if they fall, especially at night or when no-one is nearby.

A fall detection alarm ensures that any time an older person falls, someone will be notified right away. Since the alarm detects the movement of a fall, an older person with dementia doesn’t need to press a button or do anything to send an alert. The alarm takes care of it for them.

For older people who are frail, a one-touch alarm is also a great choice. They mean that if an elderly person suddenly feels ill, they can press just one button to alert someone immediately. That’s vital in health crises where time is crucial, as calling for help fast really matters.

Learn more about SureSafe’s personal alarms for older people

To learn more about how SureSafe’s affordable and highly-reviewed personal alarms can help your older loved one, just give us a call on 0800 112 3201, use our live chat or request a call back. Our team of experts will be happy to talk with you about all that our personal alarms can do.

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