The lack of government funding for social care is once again a headline topic  and the pressure to fill the funding gap continues to fall on private (and often vulnerable) payers. Questions are now being asked about whether those individuals are being provided value for money or falling victim to emotional pressures and entering into unfair contracts. The CMA is aware that “the need to find a care home can come at a distressing time” and has already flagged issues of concern where residents may have experienced:

 

  • unexplained or ‘hidden’ charges;
  • unexpected fee increases;
  • confusing requests for ‘top-up’ payments; and
  • a failure to deal with complaints fairly.

 

We’re likely to see commentary around the appropriateness of deposit protection schemes (which don’t apply to care home residents unless they have an assured shorthold tenancy), additional costs for hospital visits, chiropody or group activities and charging 100% fees when a resident is absent for a period of time e.g. in hospital.

If you haven’t already considered your care contracts in light of the Act, now is the time to review your standard terms and understand your customers’ expectations.

The good news is that “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.” We know that our clients have lots to say on local authorities’ market shaping duties and you can respond to the market study here.

For more information

For further guidance on unfair contract terms or to discuss a review of your care contracts contact Emma Watt or Emma Young, or visit the health and social care section of our website.

 


 

[1] On Friday 2 December 2016 - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-launches-review-of-uk-care-and-nursing-homes