Smoking in BedGreat care homes and home care services encourage the individuality and independence of their residents or service users, and part of this is the choice to smoke.

If the service user chooses to continue smoking during their care, it is their right to do so – but what are the laws surrounding this and how does it affect you as a care worker?

Residential Care Homes are exempt from the Smokefree legislation, allowing designated indoor smoking rooms or smoking bedrooms to be used only by residents. It is not a legal requirement to provide one. However, if you do designate a room within a care home, there are five conditions the room has to meet. The room must:

1)      Be designated in writing by the person in charge of the establishment concerned as a room in which smoking is permitted

2)      Have a ceiling and, except for doors and windows, is completely enclosed on all sides by floor to ceiling walls

3)      Have a ventilation system which does not ventilate into any other part of the building, except for other designated rooms

4)      Have mechanically closing doors (to stop smoke drifting into smoke free rooms. The door may be fitted with self closers)

5)      Be clearly marked as a room where smoking is permitted

If a service user receives care in their own home they can, of course, smoke there. If you are a non-smoker and work in their home, they are not legally obliged to stop smoking whilst you are there.

The most important thing to remember about smoking is the fire safety risk it poses. Every individual receiving professional care should be have a risk assessment carried out as a result of wishing to smoke. Remember: no matter what the service user’s preference is, the safety of service users should always take precedence over that preference.

London Fire Brigade have geared more of their fire hazard checks on care homes and residential homes this year as a result of past incidents, many of them linked to smoking. Care Homes and Home Care Services all over the country are encouraged to take a look at their current fire safety procedures and risk assessments, and consider updating them. 

For more information, please read Age UK’s Fire Safety Tips and take a look at our comprehensive Fire Safety DVD Courses.

The BVS Fire safety DVD courses cover both Home Care (Domiciliary care) and Care Home Fire Safety Procedures, including the science behind how fires start, how to identify fire hazards and evacuation drills and procedures.

 

Helpful links and sources:
Gov.uk – the law on smoking in the workplace and public places
Gov.uk – Factsheet on designated smoking rooms
Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority – Smoking Guidelines for Residential Care
TUC’s advice on visiting clients in their home
Safe Workers – Exemptions to the smoking ban