An investigation by consumer watchdog Which? has found that care homes are failing to provide contracts and may be breaking the law by neglecting to tell residents and their families about important terms and conditions.
Which? is calling on the Government to act now on the competition authority’s recommendations to strengthen consumer protections for care home residents and relatives including on contracts, unfair fees and evictions.
Andrew Boaden, Senior Policy Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, says: “The findings from this investigation are deeply saddening and shameful, but unfortunately unsurprising. Around two thirds (70%) of people living in care homes are affected by dementia. And all too often families of people with dementia have called us at their wits end, as their loved one suffers at the hands of bad contract clauses. Some have told us harrowing stories of people with advanced dementia evicted at a month’s notice.
“Moving into a care home is a huge and often very difficult decision. It’s vital that they and their families are supported in understanding their rights – the fact that so many aren’t is absolutely appalling.
“However, care homes behaving in this way is a symptom of a chronically underfunded social care system. The time for action is now, and the government needs to ensure meaningful investment and social care reform in the forthcoming green paper. Or the system will collapse, and people with dementia will continue to suffer.”
Cllr Linda Thomas, Vice Chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Arranging care and entering care contracts can be a stressful and emotional time, particularly when this has to be done at short-notice, so it is really important that individuals and their families are supported in this process and have the time needed to understand what they’re signing up to.
“Councils have duties to provide information and advice on the care system, the types of care available, providers and how to access support. This is part of a wider process of helping people through the care system, and providers have an important role to play in ensuring that people understand their care contracts and are comfortable with them. This is important for transparency, certainty, understanding and peace of mind.
“The long-awaited reforms promised following this summer’s Green Paper need to help people to plan for their or their loved ones’ future care needs while providing a sustainable funding solution to ensure they receive high-quality care which best meets their needs.”