In December 2016 the Competition and Markets Authority announced a new probe into the charges imposed on care-home residents. The CMA said it was particularly concerned that vulnerable people and their families were being hit with hidden fees or bills that were significantly higher than expected.
Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s 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.”
Coscelli added: “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 rules around paying for care
Get in touch
The CMA is asking residents and their families to get in touch to share any problems they have encountered when it comes to paying for care. It is particularly concerned about issues such as:
• Increases in fees that were not made clear in the original contract.
• Initial deposits and the terms under which money would be returned.
• Homes which give little or insufficient notice of increases in fees.
• Poor complaint handling by the care home, including homes which discourage residents’ complaints and/or allow unfavourable treatment of residents who have complained.
• Difficulties experienced by people who leave care homes.
The CMA inquiry follows reports by organisations such as Citizens Advice, which found that thousands of care-home residents had been hit with unexpected bills. At the same time, new research from online directory TrustedCare.co.uk has shown that the cost of a week in a nursing home has increased from £692 to £924 in the past 12 months.
If you or a family member are unhappy with the service offered by a care home – including whether the charges are fair – then you should complain initially to the service provider that runs the home.
If its response is not satisfactory, you can take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. In England, the regulator the Care Quality Commission offers advice on how to make a complaint.
How to avoid care home fees
Get great ideas for saving money, plus information on your consumer rights, pensions, tax and much more in our Money section.