Citizens Advice has welcomed the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) market study into the care and nursing home market.
The national charity called for the CMA to investigate the care home market after its research found people were getting shock bills, having as little as a week’s notice about fees going up, and paying deposits that they were offered no protection for.
Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy said:
“A lack of protections in the care market is exposing older people and their families to poor practices.
“Our research finds people are experiencing a number of problems with the care market including short notice of cost increases and hidden charges, for things like management fees, which can run into thousands of pounds.
“People often have little choice but to pay these costs because moving the resident to another care home is simply too disruptive or distressing. In some instances relatives don’t make a complaint to the company because they worry that the resident could be treated badly.
“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 Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will now investigate the care home market. In particular it’s important that the investigation looks closely at whether further regulation is needed.”
Previous research from Citizens Advice found:
- 1 in 10 care homes give only a week’s notice to bill-payers that their fees are going to rise
- 1 in 5 people with family in a care home have been hit by a shock bill
- Over a third put down a deposit despite there being no deposit protection scheme
- People are having to make decisions about moving a loved one into a care home in a short amount of time – for 55% the process took a month but for 8% it took just a week
Citizens Advice is calling for the CMA’s investigation to look at:
- A minimum notice period for fee increases
- Requirements for upfront information about extra charges
- Better protections for people’s deposits
- Whether people who have problems with their care home provider are able to access the right support from bodies like local authorities to raise these concerns
- Whether people have access to the information and support they need when choosing a care home