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19th December 2016

Investigation launched into consumer rights in social care

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a market study into care homes for older people to investigate whether current practices breach consumer laws.

The CMA study 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 the law.

The enquiry covers four areas: 

  • How does the market in care homes work and what are the barriers to entry and pressures affecting sustainability; 
  • What impact does regulation and commissioning and market-shaping by local authorities have on the care home market; 
  • Is sufficient information available to make decisions on choosing a care home; and 
  • Adherence to consumer protection law by care homes.

There are currently 430,000 older people in care and nursing homes across 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.

CFW policy advisor Mary Wimbury (pictured) said: "We encourage all members to proactively respond to the study too, to showcase positive examples of good care practice.  You may also be surveyed, if you need any advice on responding, please do contact us.”

CMA acting chief executive Andrea Coscelli 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."

For more information on the CMA market study, visit the UK government website.

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