CARE homes have been told to furnish residents’ rooms with their own bedsheets, curtains and furniture in a bid to make them less “austere and alien”.

Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support, said the move would help dementia patients feel less confused and unhappy when they are forced into a new environment.

His comments came as he unveiled a more robust inspection regime, implemented under the Care Quality Commission from October.

However, campaigner Brian Todd today dismissed the move as “re-arranging the chairs on the Titanic”.

The chairman of Blackburn with Darwen Older People’s Forum, said: “This will make very little difference. You can’t change things by putting up new wallpaper. So many care homes have been privatised now and residents are not getting the best care because staff are often on the minimum wage.

“What really matters is the quality of the people looking after the residents and we need decent wages to change that.

“The funding that’s given to local authorities, to run their own homes and fund people’s care in private homes, has been reduced drastically.

“It’s a disgrace that we don’t value looking after our older people well.”

Lancashire County Council, which still runs a number of homes, said that “where appropriate”, it already encourages residents to bring their own possessions and furniture.

Bernard Noblett, director of the authority’s commercial group, said: “These familiar objects can also have a therapeutic value for people with memory problems, as they help them to recall and talk about their past.”