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Taking Better Care - CCPC issues Guidelines on Nursing Home Contracts of Care

Published 07/05/2019

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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.

 

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Age Action Calls for €9 per week Rise In Old Age Pension in Budget 2020

Organisation also proposes that Government commission research on the Cost of Ageing to ensure policy meets needs of ageing population

Age Action, the advocacy organisation for older people, has called for the state’s Old Age Pension to increase by €9 per week in Budget 2020. The call was made at today’s Pre-Budget Forum, which is being organised by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and is being held in Dublin Castle’s Conference Centre.

Celine Clarke, Age Action’s Head of Advocacy and Communications, said that a €9 increase in the weekly Old Age Pension would be a key step in building towards the Government’s own commitment that the pension should be set at 35% of average weekly earnings.

“The National Pensions Framework was published almost 10 years ago and it committed the Government to benchmarking the Old Age Pension at 35% of average weekly earnings. In order to move the current pension payment towards the delivery of that target, we are calling on the Government to increase the weekly pension payment by €9,” Celine Clarke said.

Ms Clarke provided additional context to Age Action’s call for a €9 per week pension rise, when she explained that in 2009, the weekly income for pensioners depending on the State – when all the benefits were added together – was €265.44, this year it’s €273.63 – only €7.89 higher than it was higher than it was 10 years ago. 

“While pensions have increased by a welcome €5 per week over the last few years, there is no clear and transparent formula informing these increases, and Ireland is also unusual in setting the pension rate in the budget every year. Age Action is urging the Government to consider applying a triple lock formula for pension increases – namely, guaranteeing that the basic State pension will rise by a minimum of either 2.5%, the rate of inflation or average earnings growth, whichever is the larger.”

In addition to the proposals on pension increases, Age Action is also calling for:

  • The commissioning of research by Government on the Cost of Ageing to inform the development of policy so that the country can meet the needs of our ageing population – a similar exercise has been carried out in relation to the Cost of Disability;
  • Increase the income threshold for all means-tested benefits in line with increases to the Old Age Pension and secondary benefits;
  • Increase the Living Alone Allowance by €5 per week;
  • Increase the Fuel Allowance rate by €2.35 and reintroduce a 32-week payment period.

Pre-Budget Submission to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

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You might be due a tax refund

 

 

Revenue wants to make sure that everyone knows about the tax credits, reliefs and exemptions they are entitled to. Revenue wrote to some people recently telling them that they might be entitled to a tax refund going back as far as 2014.
If you think that you might also be due a tax refund for the year 2014, you need to submit a claim to Revenue before midnight on 31 December 2018. If you don’t want to miss out, submit your claim to Revenue before then.