Staff welfare and facilities – residential care

Every employer has a duty to protect the welfare of their employees, so, to help you do just that, we’ve put together a list of considerations for those working in a care home environment.

Toilets, wash and changing facilities

By law, you need to provide enough toilets and wash facilities for the maximum number of people who could be at work at any one time. Under the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) requirements, you should have:

Number of employeesNumber of toilets/basins needed
1 – 6 employees1 x toilet and 1 x basin
6 – 25 employees2 x toilets and 2 x basins
26 – 150 employees3 x toilets and 3 x basins

It’s not enough to just provide the facilities though, you must ensure they’re clean, properly lit and ventilated at all times, and that you have a supply to hot and cold water, soap, drying facilities and adequate sanitary disposal units.

Do you need to separate male and female facilities?

Unless the whole facility is in one, lockable room, for one person to use at a time, you should have separate facilities for men and women.

In some cases, if your care home is particularly small, for example, it’s acceptable for employees to share facilities with residents, but in general, it’s best practice to have separate toilet facilities.

Changing facilities

Due to the nature of care homes, employees will sometimes need to change into their uniform on-site, so it’s important that you provide areas for changing, too.

Break rooms

Rest facilities should be provided so that your employees have somewhere to take breaks and eat meals. Your rest facility should include things like:

  • Drinking water;
  • Access to a kettle or boiling water tap; and
  • Somewhere to refrigerate and heat food.


You’ll need to make arrangements to protect non-smoking residents, workers and visitors from the health risks of second-hand smoke. To do this, you could consider things like designated smoking areas, proper ventilation and keeping non-smoking staff out of smoking areas – even when they’re caring for smoking residents. To find out more about this, watch our video on smoking and fire in care homes.

Working time

There are a number of regulations in place to protect the rights of workers when it comes to working time. Basic Working Time regulations state

  • There’s a cap of an average of 48 hours a week in which a worker can be required to work (they can, however, choose to work more if they want to);
  • For night workers, an average of eight hours’ can be worked in each 24-hour period (calculated over the appropriate reference period);
  • Night workers have the right receive free health assessments;
  • The right to 11 hours consecutive rest a day;
  • The right to a day off each week;
  • The right to rest breaks if the working day is longer than six hours;
  • The right to 5.6 weeks paid leave per year.

If any of your employees are young workers (workers who are between school leaving age and 18 years-old) the regulations are slightly different:

  • Young workers have a limit of eight hours working time a day and 40 hours a week (unless there are special circumstances).
  • Young workers shouldn’t work either between 10pm and 6am or between 11pm and 7am (except in certain circumstances).
  • There should be a minimum of 12 hours rest between each working day.
  • Young workers should have at least two days rest a week and a 30-minute in-work rest break when working for longer than 4.5 hours.

These special rights also apply to young people on work experience. You can find out more about employing school leavers here.

Night shifts

Night work can’t be avoided within the care industry but, as an employer, you have a duty to make sure your workers are fit for working overnight. First and foremost, if an employee’s going to work nights, you’ll need to offer them a free health assessment that’s written by a qualified health professional. Your workers don’t have to accept this, but you must offer it, along with repeat assessments.

New and expectant mothers

There are a number of special measures you’ll need to take into consideration when an employee either informs you that they’re pregnant or returns to work after having a baby – special risk assessments, which should be regularly reviewed as circumstances change, for example.

For more information on employing new and expectant mothers, read our guide on it here.

First Aid

If a worker’s injured or taken ill while working, you have a duty to make sure that basic first aid can be provided. Care homes are classed as medium risk environments, which means the following number of employees must be first aid trained by law:

Number of employeesFirst aid requirements
Less than five employeesAt least one appointed first aider
5 – 50 employeesAt least one first aider who is trained in either First Aid at Work, or Emergency First Aid at Work
More than 50 employeesAt least one first aider, trained in First Aid at Work, for every 50 employees.

Got a question?

If you’ve got any questions on any of your staff welfare and/or facilities responsibilities, then our Health & Safety experts are on hand to help. Simply get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or to start getting support today.

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