New standards for nursing homes
New nursing home standards will tackle the isolation felt by some residents in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said.
They establish minimum requirements that providers of services must achieve, and also outline the level of service that residents and their families and carers can expect.
Under the old regime little time was left for meaningful engagement with elderly home occupants, officials said.
The document said: "This in turn has led in to feelings of a loss of individuality where the person behind the health and personal care needs becomes isolated with little opportunity to have their voice heard."
Last year Cherry Tree House nursing home in Carrickfergus was criticised after failing to comply with regulations and meet standards. One relative said she was given no advance warning that her mother had died when she went to visit in 2011.
Minimum standards apply to nursing home care providers regulated by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA). On June 30 last year there were 264 nursing homes registered in Northern Ireland.
The original guidelines were published in 2008 and they were updated today.
They said: "These standards have been developed with the aim of keeping person-centred care to the fore, and the views of residents living in nursing homes were sought and are included in the document.
"Residents shared many examples of excellent care that was tailored to their individual needs. However, there was an overarching sense that the task-driven nature of much of the care delivered left little time for meaningful engagement with residents."
The document added: " Residents and their families and carers must be engaged and involved in all aspects of their care and home life and staff should facilitate them not only to make their views known, but also to understand how their feelings and wishes have been taken into account."
A total of 48 standards have been agreed, including human rights, privacy and dignity. Contact with family and friends, meals, the use of restraint, health care, understanding dementia and death are covered.