Mr Dorrell told social services directors at their annual conference in Edinburgh that common regulatory machinery should be set up for the two types of homes.
Regulators were likely to be run by local authorities but taken out of the existing arms-length control of social services departments, which run their own homes.
The Guardian (October 19, p10) covering the same conference, added that Mr Dorrell said that local government should give up providing social services which too often fail the vulnerable people they are supposed to help.
'I am concerned that we are going to be seen as a last resort,' Rita Stringfellow, chair of the social services committee of the AMA told the paper.
The Guardian also reported (October 19, p10) that hoots of derision greeted Stephen Dorrell's announcement that trading standards departments should be responsible for the inspection and registration of old people's homes.