Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

23rd November 2016

Can a carer refuse a call in a smoking home?

I would like to ask a question about people smoking in their own flat. Are they allowed to smoke when a carer is present? Can the carer refuse to do the call if they are smoking?


Dear Allie,


You raise a very important question.


This is something that you must discuss with your Manager and they must take action.


There are of course clear regulations about smoking in the work place but it must be different when you are working in an individual's home.


It seems to me that this may be a contractual issue and that in the contract with the service user it could say that the service user will not smoke while the carer is on the premises. If the contract is with the local authority, then your Manager should raise this with the local authority.


You would not want to let the service user down, but again if you do not wish to visit the service user you must act within your contract of employment and that may need to be amended too.


I have heard this issue raised before but it is the first time it has been raised with me. I would be very interested to hear what other providers do and what their experiences have been.


Best wishes.



Feedback from other readers!

In response to this question about smoking we received this additional response from someone who read my answer.


In answer to the smoking question, when a carer enters a service users home it becomes the work place for the employee. Yes, it should be covered under contract with the service user. But, all Social Services clients are bound by their terms and conditions of care provision and this does cover smoking in the home when carers are working there. Private service users etc. should be signing a contract with the provider to agree with a non smoking policy.


Hi I previously worked in domiciliary care for nearly 11 years and the company I worked for did just as you mentioned regards service users that smoke in that during the initial assessment process, they would be asked respectfully and politely if they would refrain from smoking whilst the carer was on the premises.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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