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Locking of Doors in Care Homes Policy

This model policy identifies the principles involved in the use of door locks and door locking in a care home. It will require local adaptation because each home will have its own building design and external and internal security measures.

Policy Statement

This policy is written to make clear the policy and procedures followed by this service over the locking of external and internal doors and other lockable facilities. It should be read and used in connection with other policies on: Security, Individual Accommodation, Premises and Grounds Management and Gardens and Outside Areas: Access and Use.

A policy on the locking of doors in a care home requires consideration of different legislation and registration regulations, which must be reconciled. When a person is admitted to a care home it is on the expectation that it becomes their home and that they should enjoy the same rights and entitlements to privacy, dignity, security, exercising choice, autonomy and independence as they would if receiving care and support in a home that they owned or rented.

At the same time, {{org_field_name}} has a duty of care to take all reasonable and practical steps to keep each of their residents safe from harm and the risks of being harmed by, among other measures, keeping their premises secure and reducing the risks from fire and other hazards such as accidents and infectious diseases. It is important that residents can feel safe from unwanted intrusion into their lives and that they can be confident that they can retain their sense of dignity by having their right to privacy respected and personal possessions kept safe. Where locks and locking are used the least restrictive principle is followed at all times.

Door Locking and Door Locks

External Doors

In a private home the default position is to keep front and back doors locked. The householder permits entry and exit to the home and will leave and return in line with their daily activities. In a multi-occupancy property, for example, one divided into flats or bed sits, the same principle is usually followed, with the occupants controlling the external access and exit arrangements as joint key holders and as individual key holders to their own accommodation. In typically larger multi-occupancy properties a concierge arrangement might be used. CCTV of external doors might be installed as an additional security measure.

In all these different kinds of property arrangements, where electronic security methods are used the same principle for key holding is followed with codes issues to authorised people instead of keys. All methods are designed to ensure people’s needs for security and safety, freedom of access and egress and rights to ownership of private space.

To reconcile these different needs, {{org_field_name}} adopts a single access and exit “front door” policy, as outlined in its Premises Security policy. As in a private home, the front door is kept locked.

Its “key holding” (or coding) combined with its reception/“concierge” arrangements enable any resident to go out and return as they please in line with their personal arrangements, including the involvement of relatives and friends, unless it has been shown on their care plans (including Deprivation of Liberty authorisations) that restrictions on their movements are necessary to protect them from coming to harm.

As of right, no resident will be denied egress/access unless there are specific authorised restrictions on their freedom of movement. Individual arrangements will be made where it is necessary for them to go out and come in outside of the normal hours, when these arrangements apply.

“Back doors” are usually kept locked for security reasons with authorised key holders able to gain access and exit in line with their roles and responsibilities. Fire exits are maintained in line with the home’s fire safety policy and emergency evacuation procedures.

Individual Accommodation

The home works on the principle that every resident has a right to their privacy, which comes from their “ownership” of their individual accommodation and authority to decide who should and should not enter and use it. All residents are entitled to have locks (or suitable security equivalents) to their rooms designed so that they can operate them safely to go out and come in, but which also enable staff to gain access in order to carry out their agreed care tasks or in the event of any emergency.

The home does not assume that having suitable locking devices on individuals’ accommodation can be seen of itself as contributing to a deprivation of a resident’s liberty. No resident should be denied this entitlement although they might prefer not to make use of the security device used and might ask for it to be deactivated.

A risk assessment will also be carried out in respect of the device used and the resident’s capacity to use it safely without running the risk of locking her or him in or out, though in any case staff will always have the duplicate means of gaining access. Where it is not safe for a resident to use a locking/security device or they request it to be deactivated, the appropriate measures will be taken to minimise the risks of unwanted intrusion and to ensure personal possessions are kept safe and secure. All rooms have lockable cabinets as default but additional security could also be provided.

Decisions about individual room security will be included in the person’s terms and conditions and/or care plans.

Locking of Other Facilities

All shared or public facilities such as toilets and bathrooms are designed to ensure users can have privacy and maintain their sense of dignity. Where risk assessments indicate that it would be unsafe for a resident to be locked into a facility and could come to harm as a result, alternative ways will be found to ensure their privacy and dignity without the need for locking devices to be applied.

Rooms such as storage cupboards and kitchens and facilities such as medicine cabinets that require locking for health and safety reasons when not in use, and which should only be used by authorised staff will be clearly signposted.

Residents should have free access to outside areas such as patios and gardens unless counter -indicated by their risk assessment and care plans, when, for example, access and use might need to be supervised. Some areas, which need to have restricted access for health and safety or security reasons might be opened up on request. Residents will never be denied access to any area to which they would normally be entitled without there being good reasons based on, for example, general health and safety, security and personal safety.

Key Holding and Transfer

The home operates a system of key holding and transfer by ensuring that authorised key holders are “registered” and all staff are made aware of who they are. Keys are kept in a secure place, clearly identified, checked in and out with a senior staff member and records are kept on who has them and with whom they are. “Master keys” are subject to a similar but separate procedure and a restricted list of authorised master key holders.

Staff are expected to support residents who might hold their own keys to their accommodation or cabinets by tactfully checking that they know where they are, how to use them, what to do if they lose them and making sure that they do not fall into the “wrong hands”.


Staff receive training in the home’s policies on the locking of doors, etc as part of their induction and further training in person-centred care in which the rights of residents to privacy and dignity are fully respected along with their needs to be kept safe from harm and to live in a secure environment.

Responsible Person: {{org_field_registered_manager_first_name}} {{org_field_registered_manager_last_name}}

Reviewed on: {{last_update_date}}

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