National care standards: care homes for children and young people

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

8-16 Leading your life

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

Introduction to standards 8 to 16

The experience of staying in a care home, whether for a long period or a short break, should be a positive one. You should be encouraged and helped to use your talents, making full use of the resources available to you to achieve your potential.

Exercising your rights

Staying in the care home, you have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. You also have a responsibility not to infringe the rights of others. You have the right to look at any information that is kept about you, and to have it treated confidentially.

Making choices

You have the right to contribute to decisions made about your life and care, in ways that are suited to your age. You can expect support to help you choose and act on your decisions.

Eating well

Nutrition is an important part of your healthcare. You should:

  • have a good, varied diet;
  • have choices in food;
  • have any special needs catered for;
  • be confident that the care home keeps up food and hygiene standards; and
  • have any cultural needs catered for.

Keeping well

You have a right to have your health needs met and to have support in using the full range of healthcare services. If you take medication, arrangements are in place for you to take your medication safely and in the way that suits you best.


Good quality education will help you achieve your potential. You have a right to have your educational needs met and, where necessary, you should receive extra help to make sure this happens. Staff will help you get the best from your education and available resources. They will help you to manage your study time.

Private life

Staff give you privacy and respect confidentiality. They try to help you follow your cultural, religious or ethnic beliefs.

Information and written records about you are confidential and you have a right to expect that they are treated in confidence and that you know who will be allowed to see your records.

Daily life

Your daily life in the care home should be as similar as possible to that of other children and young people. You should not be singled out in a way that stigmatises you. For example, if you are on outings with members of staff, they will only identify themselves as staff when necessary and you should not have to use transport which identifies the care home.

Supporting communication

People may use different languages or methods of communication for a variety of reasons. As a result, they may have difficulty in making themselves understood. However, being able to communicate is an essential part of playing an active part in daily life and you should get help to do so if you need it.

Exercising your rights

Standard 8
You know about your rights and responsibilities. You can make choices within limits that are suited to your age. Staff support you in making decisions.

1 Staff understand the rights of children and young people and what this means in practice.

2 You and other children and young people are encouraged to respect and help each other. Staff speak respectfully about everyone, whatever their background, at all times when in contact with you and other children.

3 Staff explain your rights and responsibilities in a way that you can easily understand.

4 You know that staff are aware of the rules, records, policies and procedures that reflect your rights to choice and that these are related to your age.

5 You choose what to do in your free time within agreed limits and according to your age. This includes spending time with your friends as long as this is in your interests.

6 You know that staff will help you contact outside agencies that can help you if you have a problem (for example, health counselling), or if your Care Plan indicates a need to do so.

7 You can take part in life outside the care home. There are links between the care home and local community organisations and facilities.

8 Staff give you a range of responsibilities that are suited to your age, including an appropriate level of responsibility for others.

Making choices

Standard 9
You live in an environment where everyone respects and supports personal choices. You can make choices that are right for your age and understanding in all areas of your personal and social life.

1 You have the help you need to make good decisions and reduce risk to yourself.

2 You are involved in day-to-day decisions and staff know what you like and do not like. You are involved in choosing furniture and decoration where appropriate.

3 You have pocket money and can choose what to spend it on (within limits of security and safety).

4 You can choose your clothes and other personal belongings. You have money for toiletries if you want to buy them yourself.

5 You can make an informed choice about whether or not to follow a faith. Depending on your age, the views of your family will be taken into account. You will receive support and practical help if you choose to follow a faith.

6 If you have a disability, you have the same opportunity to make choices as other young people.

7 If you are having short breaks, your right to exercise choice is not affected by the short-term nature of your stay.

Eating well

Standard 10
Your meals are varied and nutritious. They reflect your food preferences and any special dietary needs. They are well prepared and cooked and are attractively presented.

1 Catering and care staff know your food choices and preferences, including ethnic, cultural and religious ones. Any special dietary needs (for example, vegetarian or if you have allergies) are recorded in your personal plan and your meals suit these needs.

2 You are offered meals that reflect your preferences and are varied regularly according to your comments. There will be an alternative available if you need it and meals will always include fresh fruit and vegetables.

3 You have the choice of a cooked breakfast and can have snacks and hot and cold drinks.

4 You are encouraged to try different foods, food from different cultures and different styles of cooking.

5 You enjoy food that is well prepared and cooked, and meals are well presented. All food handling follows good food-hygiene practices and staff are trained in food hygiene.

6 You know that staff understand and promote the social aspects of mealtimes, for example, enjoying meals with your friends.

7 You are encouraged, wherever possible, to take part in shopping for food, preparing and cooking meals and snacks, clearing up and deciding menus.

8 You can have access to basic catering equipment such as a kettle.

9 If you need any help to eat your food (for example, a liquidised diet, adapted cutlery or crockery, or help from a staff member) staff will arrange this for you.

10 Staff will regularly review anything that may affect your ability to eat or drink, such as your dental health. They will arrange for you to get advice if you need it.

Keeping well - lifestyle

Standard 11
Your health needs are met. Staff discuss your healthcare needs (physical, emotional and social) with you and your family, and others responsible for your care, and arrange for appropriate healthcare.

1 You have health assessments that meet legal requirements and healthcare, including regular dental care and eye care, when you need it.

2 Your health needs are discussed with you and your family, including diet, nutrition and exercise. The care home makes sure that you are supported and encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle and look after your health.

3 You will receive information about preventive healthcare (for example, screening, immunisation and regular check-ups). If you want to take part in any of these, staff will help you to do so. If your stay is for a short break only, staff will do this by making sure your family and others responsible for your care are given the same information.

4 You receive individual advice and guidance that is suited to your age and development on sexual matters, healthy living, substance misuse, personal hygiene and physical development and growth.

5 You are encouraged and helped to make appointments with healthcare professionals. Staff may take you to appointments and help you follow any advice you have been given.

6 You can be assured that staff have the specialist knowledge (either through training or by getting specialist advice) about particular healthcare or disability needs you may have.

7 If you have a disability, you receive the specific services you need to lead as full and normal a life as possible. These may include therapeutic and other specialist services, such as occupational therapy or psychological services.

8 If you need it, staff will know how to arrange for your personal care equipment to be repaired and maintained. This will be recorded in your personal plan.

9 You have an individual health record and assessment, and action records are up to date. Your healthcare is always discussed at reviews.

10 You know about your health history and have access to it.

11 You can get information about:

  • GP services;
  • mental health services;
  • dental and eye services; and
  • health promotion.

12 If you feel unwell, either physically or emotionally, you feel able to discuss this with the staff and, if needed, are given support in getting help from your GP or other primary care team member. If you become seriously unwell suddenly, you know that arrangements are in place to get help quickly.

13 You are registered with the GP and dentist of your choice at the practice that is linked to the care home. There are strong links with local support services, including medical, therapy and social work services as needed.

14 You have the opportunity, appropriate to your age, to discuss health matters privately and in confidence. You have access to a known practitioner or counsellor.

15 Staff are aware of the law on whether you are able to give your consent to medical treatment.

16 If you are pregnant you receive information, advice and support.

17 If you are about to become a father you receive information, advice and support.

18 You know that the care home treats death and grief with sensitivity and offers full support at that time, respecting your faith and any spiritual and cultural beliefs. Staff will give you, and where appropriate your relatives and friends, advice, support and counselling if you are faced with death or someone close to you dies.

Keeping well - medication

Standard 12
If you need to take medication, staff know this and there are arrangements in place for you to take your medication safely and in the way that suits you best.

1 If you are old enough, and staff are satisfied it is safe, you can manage your own medication unless there are specific legal reasons that prevent this.

2 If you are managing your own medication, you will be given your own lockable storage to keep your medication in your room. If you need it, you will also have special storage somewhere else (for example, in a fridge) that is secure and accessible to you.

3 You can get help from the staff with ordering and collecting your prescriptions if you want or need it.

4 If you are on medication that someone else needs to give you (for example, an injection), the staff will do this in a way that recognises and respects your dignity and privacy.

5 If you have any questions or need advice about your medication that the staff cannot answer, they will help you to get the advice from your community pharmacist, GP or another member of the primary care team.

6 If you have your medication managed for you, you can be confident that the care home has effective systems in place for ordering medication, storing it safely, giving it safely and getting rid of it safely and that staff are trained in how to administer medication. This training is kept up to date.

7 You know that any medication you receive will have been prescribed for your own use and that staff will monitor your medication and the condition for which it has been prescribed.

8 The care home keeps accurate, up-to-date records of all the medicines that have been ordered, taken or not taken, and got rid of.

9 You know that if any drugs go missing, the staff will take the necessary action to report this to the relevant authorities.


Standard 13
Staff support you to make sure you achieve your potential at school. You live in an educationally-rich environment.

1 You know that the care home staff encourage and support you in school and homework activities. They work with the school or college so they know how to help to meet your learning needs. Books, newspapers, computers, and educational, artistic and other cultural materials are available in the care home.

2 You can be confident that staff know the importance of education and can help you to achieve your potential. They are knowledgeable about, and have a clear understanding of, relevant legislation relating to children and young people with special needs.

3 Staff help you to attend school or college regularly, and work with teachers to deal with any problems.

4 You have enough quiet space to work in and there are special quiet areas for you to study.

5 Staff support you to take part in wider educational opportunities such as school trips and clubs, to get financial help and help with travel to events or matches.

6 Staff members can advise you how you can get grants for further or higher education and how the authority or government will support you financially if you continue with your education after school or college.

7 You are supported to achieve the targets that are set out in your individualised educational programme.

8 Where appropriate, staff are in regular contact with your school, including going to parents meetings or other school or community events. They are there for you when you take part in events (for example, sport or music).

Private life

Standard 14
Staff will respect your wishes about the private aspects of your life and your religious, cultural, political, social and sexual preferences. They give you privacy and respect confidentiality.

1 You can have contact in private with any professional, your family and others (in person, by post or over the phone or by e-mail) unless it is assessed and recorded that this presents a risk to you or others.

2 You know that staff are trained to deal with issues of diversity (for example, sexuality and lifestyle choice) sensitively and knowledgeably. You have information about your lifestyle choices and can contact other people who can support them.

3 If you have difficulty in meeting your own emotional or sexual needs because of particular health or physical problems, staff will treat this with sensitivity and get specialist advice or help for you.

4 If you require intimate care, it is given sensitively in private and with respect for your dignity. Where possible, your wishes are respected over the choice of person to carry it out.

5 Staff can give you advice on personal hygiene and your personal appearance and help you to develop your self-esteem.

6 You can choose the member of staff with whom you want to discuss personal issues.

Daily life

Standard 15
You play a full part in the life of the care home and in the wider community, using a range of resources (people, equipment or services) the care home has access to.

1 You are encouraged and supported to take part in activities which develop your individual talents, interests and hobbies. The activities reflect the needs, abilities and interests of yourself and the other young people, as individuals or in groups.

2 You are encouraged and supported to take part in sporting, leisure and outdoor activities.

3 Staff help you celebrate birthdays and mark other events or festivals that are important to you. They also help you to celebrate or mark any school, sporting or creative achievements.

4 Staff help you to find information about your lifestyle choices. They tell you who else may be able to support you.

5 Your friends are encouraged to visit you, unless they present a risk to you or others. In some cases, visits may be supervised.

6 You can be confident that staff who go with you to events, appointments and so on, will only identify themselves as staff members when it is necessary.

7 You can be confident that cars or minibuses belonging to the care home will not advertise the service in a way that singles you out for unwanted attention.

8 You will be encouraged to travel independently whenever it is safe to do so.

9 Sanctions are fair and in line with what you have done wrong. They follow the care home's policies and are properly recorded. No-one will be physically punished.

10 Groups of children or young people are not punished as a result of the behaviour of one person.

Supporting communication

Standard 16
You have help to use services, aids and equipment for communication, if your first language is not English or if you have any other communication needs.

1 Your communication needs are regularly assessed and reviewed.

2 If you need it, staff can help you get and use specialist communication equipment.

3 If you need it, communication support is available for you at all times. You have access to interpreters and other specialist supports. Where appropriate, staff will be trained in sign or symbol language.

4 You receive encouragement to keep and develop your first language or sign or symbol language (or all three). You have interpretation or translation facilities, or any other help you might need, to let you be part of the life in the care home.

5 You can prepare for important events, for example, reviews, and have time to communicate your feelings, views and answers. You have support in reading and understanding records, through interpreters or communication specialists if necessary.

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