National care standards: care homes for children and young people

National care standards: care homes for children and young people Edition


Care homes for children and young people

These standards are for children and young people who receive a service described in Section 2(3) of the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 ('the Act') as one that 'provides accommodation, together with nursing, personal care or personal support, for persons by reason of their vulnerability or need'.

Residential care may be provided in different settings:

  • a care home, often called a children's home or young people's centre; or
  • a respite care home, a unit especially for short breaks.

Children and young people may be resident in care homes for short periods, including respite care or short breaks, or in the longer term, with a view to moving on to adulthood and more independent living.

These standards will also be taken into account by the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care ('the Care Commission') in the registration and inspection of residential services for adults where adults have dependent children living with them.

The national care standards

Scottish Ministers set up the National Care Standards Committee ( NCSC) to develop national standards. The NCSC carried out this work with the help of a number of working groups. These groups included people who use services, and their families and carers, along with staff, professional associations, regulators from health and social care, local authorities, health boards and independent providers. Many others were also involved in the consultation process.

As a result, the standards have been developed from the point of view of children or young people who use the services. They describe what each individual child or young person can expect from the service provider. They focus on the quality of life that the child or young person using the service actually experiences.

The standards are grouped under headings that follow the child or young person's journey through the service. These are as follows.

Beginning your stay (standards 1 to 7)
1 Arriving for the first time
2 First meetings
3 Keeping in touch with people who are important to you
4 Support arrangements
5 Your environment
6 Feeling safe and secure
7 Management and staffing arrangements

Leading your life (standards 8 to 16)
8 Exercising your rights
9 Making choices
10 Eating well
11 Keeping well - lifestyle
12 Keeping well - medication
13 Learning
14 Private life
15 Daily life
16 Supporting communication

Moving on (standard 17)
17 Moving on

Expressing your views (standards 18 and 19)
18 Concerns, comments and complaints
19 Advocacy

Using the national care standards

As a child or young person living in, or receiving respite care in, a care home, you will use the standards at different times. You and those responsible for your care may want to use them so that you and they know the sorts of questions to ask that will help you make choices about the move. If you already live in a care home you may use the standards when discussing the service you receive with staff or with other people, like your social worker. If things go wrong, you can refer to standards when you raise concerns or make a complaint. ( See 'Expressing your views', standards 18 and 19.)

People who run care homes will use the standards to find out what is expected of them in offering support and care services. Standards make it clear that everything about the service is focused on the quality of life that you, as the young person involved, experience.

Each care home will provide a statement of function and purpose to the Care Commission when it applies to be registered. The Care Commission will use this statement to decide which standards it will take into account when it registers and inspects the care home.

Staff from the Care Commission will make regular visits at arranged times as well as without notice. If the quality of care does not meet the standards set, the care home will need to improve within an agreed time limit.

The principles behind the standards

The standards are based on a set of principles that are the result of all the contributions made by the NCSC, its working groups and everyone else who responded to the consultations on the standards as they were being written. They recognise that services must be accessible and suitable for everyone who needs them, including people from ethnic minority communities. They reflect the strong agreement that you have rights and that your experience of receiving services is very important and should be positive.

The main principles

The principles are dignity, privacy, choice, safety, realising potential and equality and diversity.


Your right to:

  • be treated with dignity and respect at all times; and
  • enjoy a full range of social relationships.


Your right to:

  • have your privacy and property respected; and
  • be free from unnecessary intrusion.


Your right to:

  • make informed choices, while recognising the rights of other people to do the same;
  • know about the range of choices; and
  • get help to fully understand all the options and choose the one that is right for you.


Your right to:

  • feel safe and secure in all aspects of life, including health and wellbeing;
  • be secure in the knowledge that adults are responsible for children's safety;
  • enjoy safety but not be over-protected; and
  • be free from exploitation and abuse.

Realising potential

Your right to have the opportunity to:

  • achieve all you can;
  • make full use of the resources that are available to you; and
  • make the most of your life.

Equality and diversity

Your right to:

  • live an independent life, rich in purpose, meaning and personal fulfilment;
  • be valued for your ethnic background, language, culture and faith;
  • be treated equally and be cared for in an environment which aims to be free from bullying, harassment and discrimination; and
  • be able to complain effectively without fear of victimisation.

The Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care

The Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 ('the Act') set up the Care Commission, which registers and inspects all the services regulated under the Act, taking account of the national care standards issued by Scottish Ministers. The Care Commission has its headquarters in Dundee, with regional offices across the country. It will assess applications from people who want to provide care homes for children and young people. It will inspect the services to make sure that they are meeting the regulations and in doing so will take account of the national care standards. You can find out more about the Care Commission and what it does from its website (

The Scottish Social Services Council

The Act created the Scottish Social Services Council ('the Council') which was established on 1 October 2001. It also has its headquarters in Dundee. The Council has the duty of promoting high standards of conduct and practice among social services workers, and in their education and training. To deliver its overall aims of protecting service users and carers and securing the confidence of the public in social services, the Council has been given five main tasks. These are: to establish registers of key groups of social services staff; to publish codes of practice for all social services staff and their employers; to regulate the conduct of registered workers; to regulate the training and education of the workforce; to undertake the functions of the National Training Organisation for the Personal Social Services. The Council has issued codes of practice for social service workers and employers of social service workers. These describe the standards of conduct and practice within which they should work. The codes are available from the Council website (

How standards and regulations work together

The Act gives Scottish Ministers the power to publish standards which the Care Commission must take into account when making its decisions. It also gives Scottish Ministers the power to make regulations imposing requirements in relation to care homes for children and young people.

The standards will be taken into account by the Care Commission in making any decision about applications for registration (including varying or removing a condition that may have been imposed on the registration of the service). All providers must provide a statement of function and purpose when they are applying to register their service. On the basis of that statement, the Care Commission will determine which standards will apply to the service that the provider is offering.

The standards will be used to monitor the quality of services and their compliance with the Act and the regulations. If, at inspection, or at other times, for example, as a result of the Care Commission looking into a complaint, there are concerns about the service, the Care Commission will take the standards into account in any decision on whether to take enforcement action and what action to take.

If the standards were not being fully met, the Care Commission would note this in the inspection report and require the service manager to address this. The Care Commission could impose an additional condition on the service's registration if the provider persistently, substantially or seriously failed to meet the standards or breached a regulation. If the provider does not then meet the condition, the Care Commission could issue an improvement notice detailing the required improvement to be made and the timescale for this. Alternatively, the Care Commission could move straight to an improvement notice. The Care Commission would move to cancel the registration of any service if the improvement notice does not achieve the desired result. In extreme cases ( i.e. where there is serious risk to a person's life, health or wellbeing) the Care Commission could take immediate steps to cancel the registration of any service without issuing an improvement notice.

Regulations are mandatory. In some cases not meeting a regulation will be an offence. This means a provider may be subject to prosecution. Not meeting or breaching any regulation is a serious matter.

Decisions by the Care Commission on what to do when standards or regulations are not met will take into account all the relevant circumstances and be proportionate.

You can get information on these regulations from the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001, which is available from the Stationery Office Bookshop. You can also see the Act on-line ( see Annex B for the address).

You can also see the Scottish Statutory Instruments for the Regulation of Care Regulations 2002 on-line ( see Annex B for the address).


If you would like to comment on these standards you can visit our website and send a message through our mailbox:

You can also contact us at:

Care Standards and Sponsorship Branch
Community Care Division
Primary and Community Care Directorate
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Tel: 0131 244 5387
Fax: 0131 244 4005

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