The publication of revised care home standards by the Department of Health has been welcomed by East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson.
The revised standards, launched by Health Minister Jim Wells last week, set out the minimum requirements that providers of nursing care services must achieve.
They also set the level of service that the residents in nursing care and their families and carers can expect.
The standards will be used by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) as part of its programme for the registration and inspection of nursing homes to assess and report on the quality of care delivered.
The news is a positive development in the ongoing debate over the regulation of nursing homes, said Mr Dickson.
The Alliance representative recently facilitated a meeting between the Health Minister and relatives of residents from Cherry Tree Nursing Home in Carrick.
Last year, a report found that Cherry Tree had failed to consistently comply with minimum standards of care between January 2005 and March 2013.
In a statement, management at the home indicated they would “study the report carefully”.
“I note that these revised standards of care have been published and I hope they will lead to much better levels of service for residents,” Mr Dickson said. “I have been campaigning for better standards in our care homes after working with relatives and residents of Cherry Tree Nursing Home and other care homes where allegations have been raised of abuse, mistreatment and poor standards of care.
“While it is good that the Health Minister has sought to update these standards, the proof will be in whether they are adhered to and properly implemented. I continue to have serious concerns around the implementation of RQIA (Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority) reports and accountability in the structure of health and social care delivery.”
Commenting on the development, the Health Minister said: “These new standards mean that some of our most vulnerable adults will be assured of a certain level of care they can expect to receive.
“The standards were first published in 2008 and it is timely that they have been reviewed to take into account developments in nursing home care in the meantime.”
“Our goal is improved quality of life for residents and these standards will help to achieve this. They reflect the priorities of residents and their families as well as best practice in nursing home care.”