The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has today launched a market study into care homes for the elderly, to review how well the market works and whether people are treated fairly.
By its very nature, the need to find a care home can come at a distressing time, with decisions taken in challenging circumstances. The CMA study will assess how people find the experience of choosing a care home, explore whether the current regulation and complaints system gives residents adequate protection, and examine how well care homes are complying with their obligations under consumer law.
As part of this, the CMA will look very closely at reports of potentially unfair practices and contract terms being used by some care homes to assess how widespread these concerns are, how they are affecting residents, and whether they are likely to breach consumer law.
There are currently 430,000 older people in care and nursing homes in the UK and the CMA would particularly like to hear from care home residents and their relatives who have encountered issues such as unexplained or ‘hidden’ charges, unexpected fee increases, confusing requests for ‘top-up’ payments, or occasions when they feel that complaints have not been handled fairly.
Andrea Coscelli, CMA Acting Chief Executive, said:
Choosing a care home can be emotional and costly. It’s therefore essential that elderly people and their families have all the information they need to make the best possible choice, and then feel secure in the knowledge they will be fairly treated throughout their time there.
We are undertaking a thorough review of the sector to make sure it works in the best interests of those who rely on it. We want to hear from care home providers about the services they offer and any challenges they face, as well as residents, families and charities who have experienced what it’s like to choose and live in a care home. Given the concerns we have heard about possible breaches of consumer law, we particularly want to hear from people who think they might have encountered unfair terms or practices.
The market study will also evaluate the effectiveness of competition between care homes in driving quality and value for money for residents and taxpayers. It will also consider how local authorities and other public bodies purchase and assign care home places, and how they encourage and shape local supply.
Views are welcomed on any of the issues raised in the Statement of Scope by 5pm on Monday 16 January 2017. More details on how people can report their experiences if they feel they or their relatives may have been treated unfairly by a care or nursing home can be found on the reporting page.