A summary of Competition & Markets (CMA) guidance
At the end of last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published advice to care home providers about how to comply with consumer protection legislation. This followed their examination of the sector which found that some residents are at risk of being treated unfairly and recommended urgent action to reform the sector.
The published advice covers four main topics, and providers may need to make changes to how they operate to ensure they comply with consumer protection legislation.
Upfront Information – providing clear and easy to understand information about such things as fees, the type of care covered, what services are included and what aren’t, the size of the home and the staffing arrangements etc. This is highlighted within the guidance as key information that must be provided at the earliest opportunity to potential residents. This information could be provided on a website or via a brochure that is sent out to prospective residents.
Treating residents fairly – ensuring the terms and conditions are fair to both provider and the resident. This guidance sets out how to deal with terms about how long a provider can continue to charge after a resident’s death, as well as what to do regarding charging residents who are temporarily absent from the home. If terms are unfair, then providers would not be able to enforce them.
Quality of service – this is about providing services with reasonable care and skill, and if a provider does not act in the way they should have, then residents may claim compensation from the provider.
Handling complaints – residents should have an easy way of making a complaint if they are unhappy, and that this complaint will be treated fairly. There should be a written complaints procedure in place that is easy to understand. Providers should not treat the resident unfairly if they have lodged a complaint.
Click here for the guidance published by the CMA,which includes the main guidance document, as well as a shorter summary of the guidance.
There is also guidance for residents and their families about what people need to know when choosing or living in a care home and where they can go for further advice on their consumer rights. You can view it by clicking here
It is important that providers read the guidance and make any necessary changes to how they operate. The CMA will be conducting a review in November 2019 into the impact of the guidance and whether there are still care homes who aren’t complying with the law. The CMA has already taken action against providers who failed to comply with the law, and it may take further action before then if it finds care homes are treating residents and their families unfairly and breaking the law.