§ Ms. Harman
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he intends to extend dual registration opportunities to local authority social care homes in line with provisions made in the Registered Homes Bill [Lords];
(2) if he will introduce an inquiry fee payable by those prospective proprietors who inquire about establishing a private residential care home but who never register;
(3) how many private residential care homes in each local authority have been re-registered since the implementation of the Residential Homes Act 1980;
(4) how many de-registrations under the Residential Homes Act 1980 were achieved by (a) administrative decisions and (b) after appeal to the magistrates' court;
(5) what were the principal causes of de-registrations carried out since the implementation of the Residential Homes Act 1980;
(6) if the will introduce further safeguards to ensure that proprietors who have been deemed unfit to run private residential care homes do not go somewhere else in the United Kingdom to set up such homes;294W
(7) what safeguards currently exist to ensure that proprietors of private residential care homes who are not fit persons are unable to open up new homes in other parts of the United Kingdom;
(8) when he plans to publish the further regulations on residential care homes;
(9) what plans he has to provide resources to carry out the recommendations of the code of practice on residential care homes on assessment and review of residents' health and social services needs.
§ Mr. John Patten
The registration systems for residential care homes and for nursing homes do not apply to establishments operated by local authorities and health authorities and we do not believe that it would be appropriate for them to do so.
There is no provision in the relevant legislation which would empower my right hon. Friend to authorise authorities to charge an inquiry fee. The legislation requires only that an application for registration should be accompanied by the registration fee.
Information is not held centrally about the number of homes in respect of which a change in the registered person has been necessary since the implementation of the Residential Homes Act 1980 nor about cancelled registrations. However, later this year a national list of people whose registrations are cancelled is to be set up. This list will supplement the opportunities open to registration authorities in the normal way to satisfy themselves that a person is not unfit to be registered. These opportunities include taking up relevant references and carefully checking qualifications and periods of service or occupation, with particular attention to unexplained gaps in the person's past history, to periods of self-employment and to time spent outside this country. Additionally an authority considering a registration application for a home where children under the age of 18 are to be accommodated may make use of the consultancy service provided by the Department. This has more extensive coverage than the national list of cancelled registrations would have.
It is intended to make new registration regulations for residential care homes before the summer recess. The recommendations in the recently published code of practice concerning residents' health and social services needs essentially make explicit what is at present good practice. To the extent that these practices do not already apply in a particular home, individual registration authorities will have to decide how far they should be enforced. In many cases no significant resource implications arise for registration authorities: it is a matter of modifying existing methods of operation. The introduction of other recommendations will have to be related to the general availability of resources.