The Competition and Markets Authority- tasked with promoting competition for consumers in the UK- will review the care home market in the UK to assess whether residents of care homes are being treated fairly.
This review comes in the wake of reports that residents are being charged for a variety of unexpected reasons without proper consultation. There have been reports of occasions where complaints do not appear to have been properly considered in relation to fees. The review will seek to find out if contracts have breached consumer law.
The Acting Chief Executive of the Competition and Markets Authority said: –
“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.”
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice said: –
“Given people paying care bills in many ways have fewer protections than those buying a package holiday or as an energy customer, it is good that the CMA will now investigate the care home market. In particular it’s important that the investigation looks closely at whether further regulation is needed.”
The review is wide-ranging in scope and it looks to receive information from residents and their relatives about their experience regarding their care home placements in relation to fees charged and service received. It also hopes to hear from providers of care and charities in relation to the services they offer. The review will also assess the effectiveness of competition between providers in terms of fulfilling the ultimate goal of competition- increasing standards and levels of quality delivered to the end user. Finally, the review will look into the way in which public authorities commission services and in turn how their practices impact on the supply of care in a given locality.
The review is expected to take up to a year and may result in enforcement action being issued from the Competition and Markets Authority and/or providing advice to the government in relation to changing the regulatory framework which governs such contracts. The completion of this review will make for interesting reading; especially in relation to the way in which public commissioners actions shape the market.