Care homes are flouting legal requirements and surprising families with ‘unexpected’ bills and ‘unfair’ contracts, analysis reveals.
Which? analysed 100 care home websites and found 86 provided no pricing information and 91 offered no detail on any charges made in addition to room rates.
The consumer watchdog also discovered only three care home providers made their terms and conditions available online.
And some of these T&Cs could be in breach of consumer protection laws with ‘unfair terms’, Which? warned.
Some of these terms included demanding that relatives take on joint legal liability for care home fees, the ability of a care home to terminate the contract within 24 hours for undefined ‘detrimental behaviour’ and asking bereaved families to pay for their loved one’s room and care for up to a month after their death.
The analysis also revealed 27% of the English care homes either completely failed to display their Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating online or did so poorly, in some cases making it almost impossible to find.
This ‘flouts’ the legal requirement to conspicuously display their Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating.
‘The problems uncovered by our research are very troubling, given the potential impact on both those receiving and arranging care,’ said Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets at Which?.
‘Care home providers are making it far too difficult for many elderly people and their families to find the vital information they need to make important decisions about their care, with some expecting them to commit to unfair contracts.
‘The CMA [Competition and Markets Authority] must now ensure that reforms are brought forward to stamp out these poor practices wherever they exist, starting with greater transparency from providers to ensure that people are properly protected at all stages of the process of finding and securing care.’