Care Homes: New Government Guidance to improve Care Home Standards & Transparency
In 2017 the care home sector was worth around £15.9 billion annually in the UK. 410,000 residents use the services of care homes.
Over the past few years various media outlets have been raising awareness of poor care home standards. Aside from these regular and often-scathing reports into care home negligence or government funding controversies, the government's latest dealings with the care home sector can now include the Competition and Markets Authority (the "CMA") guide on care home consumer law obligations.
Following a market study in 2017 and a 6-week consultation that ended on 12 July 2018, on 16 November 2018 the CMA published its final advice that is intended to help care homes comply with their consumer law obligations.
The CMA has at the same time published a guide for care home residents and their families that sets out their consumer rights.
Prior to the consultation, the CMA had already taken enforcement action against some care homes in relation to the charging of certain upfront fees and charging fees for extended periods after a resident’s death.
CMA's Advice for Care Homes
The new 149-page document of advice covers the following areas:
Each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland must in addition to the new CMA guidance, continue to adhere to regulations set by their respective regulators (Care Quality Commission, Care Inspectorate (Scotland), Care Inspectorate Wales, Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (Northern Ireland).
CMA's Advice for Consumers
The CMA's newly published advice for consumers covers various topics that consumers should find helpful, recognising the emotional difficulties faced by those going into care (and their representatives). Notably all consumer rights apply regardless of whether a resident is paying the entirety of their care costs or if these are subsidised by a local authority, Health and Social Care Trust or the NHS.
Topics covered by the CMA's advice for consumers include what to do when choosing a care home, consumer rights regarding terms and conditions, what to do if something changes while in residence at a care home, being asked to leave a care home, a resident’s rights to a reasonable service and what to do if something goes wrong.
Should care homes get it wrong by failing to comply with their consumer law obligations, care homes may be subject to the following:
- court proceedings to stop infringements
- compensation claims on behalf of residents; and
- in certain cases, criminal prosecutions.
Short Guides and Further Assistance
Quick reference guides for care homes and residents are accessible here:
If you have any queries regarding anything touched on in this article, or if you would like further information, please contact Joe Soul, or give us a call on 0345 070 6000. You can find out more about us by clicking here.