The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority launched a 6 week consultation on its draft consumer law advice to care homes on 12 July 2018, and its final advice was published on 16 November 2018.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a 6 week consultation on its draft consumer law advice to care homes on 12 July 2018, and its final advice was published on 16 November 2018. The advice applies to operators of all care homes for people over 65 in the UK, regardless of whether residents are self or state funded. There is a short form guide also available.
The advice sets out what the CMA considers care home operators should do to comply with consumer law in order to protect residents. It reiterates the obligation of care homes to provide their services with reasonable care and skill and also covers what care homes:
Some of the main points deemed to be unfair within the advice are:
The advice also recommends that care homes:
The CMA has committed to conducting a compliance review in November 2019, assessing the level of compliance by care homes with consumer law and the progress made since the publication of its advice. It has warned that it may take further action before this where unfair and illegal practices are found.
The CMA and other enforcers, such as Trading Standards Services and the CQC, can take action against care homes that don’t comply with consumer law. Failure to comply with consumer law can have significant financial implications as well as reputational damage The CMA has already taken action against some care home providers in relation to charging certain upfront fees (including requiring Sunrise to repay c£2m in upfront payments) and charging fees for extended periods of time after a resident’s death. Care homes may also face court action; contract terms which are found to be unfair will be unenforceable against a resident and any money paid as a result of that term may be recoverable. Residents may also seek compensation.
Care home providers should:
Browne Jacobson’s commercial health team regularly supports clients with reviewing and updating contract terms. Feel free to contact Clare Auty or Joel Nixon to discuss your needs – we offer fixed fee reviews and redrafting services to the care sector.
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Welcome to our August edition of Public Matters, our monthly round-up of legal updates, news and insights for the public sector.