Improving the quality of residential care in the sector

Posted by Emma Smale / Tuesday 14 April 2015 / Care leavers
"Don’t treat it as just a job where you’re getting paid, treat the role as if you’re a parent to these children and young people."

Leeonie, care experienced young person

Action for Children has teamed up with the Who Cares? Trust to support the residential care sector to meet new Children’s Home Regulations, which include new Quality Standards.

The new regulations are really important – some of the most vulnerable young people in care live in residential homes – often they have come into care as teenagers or have experienced a lot of instability in their lives. Research shows that young people’s experiences of residential care vary, and in some homes the quality of care needs to improve. For example, there are worrying levels of self harm, numbers of young people going missing and involvement in criminal activity.

As a result of issues like these, the Government agreed to review the regulations. This was a welcome step. Residential care can work really well for many young people, and it should not be seen as a last resort.

Action for Children’s report and toolkit for practitioners Keeping Myself Safe showed that what can help young people the most is strong relationships with people they know and a good connection with where they live. Young people told us that positive relationships are fundamental to helping them build their confidence and self esteem, and to make good decisions. They highlighted that professionals in residential care need to listen to them and involve them in decisions about their lives.

"Don’t speak to me like a kid. Speak to me like a human being. Ask my opinion and how I’m feeling…giving options, we want to be offered options."

Young person, Keeping Myself Safe

The new regulations and Quality Standards aim to ensure that all children and young people living in residential homes receive the best possible care. There are five fundamental areas for homes to think about:

  • Accountability. The new regulations will make it clear that the accountability rests with the ‘Registered Person’. This can be the manager or provider depending on the how the home is configured.
  • Professional judgement. There will be a greater reliance on the registered person’s professional judgement about how they achieve the Quality Standards. Homes will need to explain and evidence their practice and be prepared to be challenged about it.  
  • Self evaluation. There will be less prescription about the contents of a home’s self evaluation. The Registered Persons will need to decide what needs to be actively monitored to assess the effectiveness of the care provided, and identify where improvements are needed.
  • Evidencing outcomes. Fundamental to this will be a home’s ability to evaluate the quality of practice, care and management and the difference this makes to the lives of children and young people. Registered Persons will need to evidence the progress children have made since their starting points and be ambitious in their expectations.
  • Improvement. At the heart of the new Quality Standards is the underpinning aim to drive improvement. This is a key aim for the Government and Ofsted who are responsible for inspecting residential homes.


We’ll be working closely with residential care providers across England to help them to do this, and inform them of what changes are required. It is clear that all residential care must provide higher quality and better tailored care, and even those homes that are currently outstanding, need to continually improve.

For more information about the new Regulations, Quality Standards and Inspection Framework, visit:

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