Care home staff will have to undergo compulsory training under Government plans to protect the elderly, it has been reported.
Health Minister Norman Lamb said the lack of basic requirements for training care workers was leaving pensioners in the hands of staff who have "no idea what they are doing".
Proposals expected in weeks will suggest national minimum standards for preparing new recruits to work in nursing homes, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Carers who help with tasks such as washing and dressing elderly people in their own homes will also be required to have the training, the newspaper said.
Mr Lamb, the Liberal Democrat care minister, said it was not acceptable that there were no "clear standards of the training that must happen in a care home".
He said: "I would not want a loved one of mine - or indeed myself - to be cared for by someone who has no training."
Criminal prosecutions must follow in the "most outrageous" cases of abuse but reforms are needed to improve the quality of care more widely in nursing homes and in pensioners' own homes, he said.
Campaigners want all staff to have training in dispensing medication, promoting dignity, the basics of nutrition and hydration, and using equipment such as hoists and lifts.
The proposals follow a number of scandals involving the treatment of the elderly.