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Should residents be allowed to smoke in care homes?


Lynne Rourke, care home manager, Southwood Lodge Reside Care Home in Bournemouth

Frank Ursell, care home manager and chief executive, Registered Nursing Home Association

Poll: Should residents be allowed to smoke in care homes?



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It is up to care homes whether they allow their residents to smoke, with residential settings currently exempt from smoke-free legislation.

However, with a number of recent fires being caused by residents smoking, it is perhaps time that care homes banned smoking to help eradicate the risk of their homes catching fire and endangering residents' lives.

No less than 120 care homes caught fire accidentally in London in 2016, causing London Fire Brigade, on the advice of health professionals, to change its stance last October from recommending smoking take place on premises ‘as safely as possible’ to no smoking at all.

In a statement the London Fire Brigade said: “Older people, as well as people with mental health problems and those with mobility issues, are the group most at risk from fire and we are concerned by the number of vulnerable people like this who are still harmed or killed by fire in places where they should be safe.”

Lynne Rourke, care home manager at Southwood Lodge Reside Care Home in Bournemouth has implemented a smoking ban on the premises to keep residents safe.

She said: “We make it very clear that all residents and staff smokers leave the premises to smoke.

“The staff go out for their breaks signing in and out in line with fire policy and residents are escorted off the premises also. There are no exceptions to this rule.

“A risk assessment would be carried out saying the resident would need an escort outside the home and a DoLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards) put in place if necessary.

“It would also say that residents would need to leave cigarettes and lighters in the office.”

You can read more about the subject in this feature on care home fires.


A care home is a resident’s home and we should respect that and allow them to have the same rights as they would have at home. Care homes need to ensure residents are safe but still allow them to smoke.

Frank Ursell argues it is an individual resident’s right to have the freedom to continue to smoke when in care because it is their home.

Frank Ursell is chief executive of the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA). He runs a 24-bed nursing home in Worcestershire in which a resident’s bedroom can be a designated smoking area. His smoking policy ensures a staff member is present to monitor residents smoking in their bedrooms.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said it was not the regulator’s responsibility to improve fire safety in care homes.

A CQC spokeswoman said providers by law must "ensure they can demonstrate that premises and equipment are safe, properly maintained and used properly. For example, evidence that a care home has fire safety risk assessments, that equipment has been properly tested and appropriate staff fire safety training is in place."

“Where we find areas of concern” the CQC will share that information with the local fire service "as the enforcer of fire safety in care homes.”

Mr Ursell said: “The regulator [CQC] requires us to put the patient first.

“Imagine a 90-year-old who has smoked all her life. The trauma of losing her husband and leaving her home. Should she have to give up smoking too?”


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Geoff Gill

Geoff Gill

12 May 2017 9:14 AM

It is not a case of stopping someone smoking. It is the safety aspect so if care homes have a designated "safe smoking area", preferably a garden or sheltered veranda, then fine. But NOT within the main confines of the care home itself ... Just my opinion good people ....