Age Action welcomes the publication of the Unfair Terms Guidelines for contracts of care in nursing homes by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).
The CCPC guidelines, published on 7 May, are a first step in improving transparency, clarity and certainty for consumers. The guidelines will help people to know their rights under consumer law and to begin a dialogue with a nursing home in cases where there is a concern regarding the fairness of the contractare. The guidelines inform nursing home providers of their obligations and responsibilities under consumer protection law in terms of the provision and cost of additional services in nursing homes such as social activities. The guidelines have legal status under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2007 and will help both providers and consumers understand their responsibilities and rights.
The decision to move into a nursing home is a significant one that is often made with urgency and in stressful circumstances. Age Action has been aware of, and concerned at, the unclear position of some nursing home residents and their relatives who are unsure what services and charges they are legally bound to pay for. Complaints continue to come to us where residents and families are unhappy being charged for services they do not need or use. Age Action has been actively working on this issue since 2017 when it published a briefing paper Regulating Nursing Home Charges. Understanding that the nursing home provider is entitled to charge for additional services that it provides beyond those covered by the NHSS, Age Action highlighted the fact that the amounts being charged, the transparency of the system and, in some cases, the dubious legality of the charge can cause serious problems for nursing home residents and their families. Charges are normally set out in the resident’s contract for care but there was nothing to prevent the nursing home from altering the contract once the resident is in place and imposing additional charges, which can be stressful for residents and their families.
The CCPC will send a copy of the guidelines to all nursing home owners this week and a booklet is available for consumers on the CCPC website. The CCPC website has a dedicated information section where a consumer booklet, standard template letter to help people initiate a dialogue and or complaint against a nursing home and a sample letter that can be used as a guide can be found.