/ Health

Win! Regulator recommends urgent action on care

It’s a huge win for our Care Needs Care Now campaign as the Competition and Markets Authority agrees with us that urgent action is needed in the care home market. We now call on the government to take action, are you with us?

In October, we urged the Competition and Markets Authority to heed our warnings about the sustainability of the care home market. This was after we found that the country is facing a huge care home bed shortfall within the next five years.

We called on the CMA to listen to the personal experiences of thousands of people who’ve had to deal with care and take action in its review of the care home market.

Care review

Some of you may recall that since the beginning of the year we’ve been gathering evidence on your personal experiences of dealing with care homes.

And we heard some harrowing tales. Fred recently shared with us how his wife would be left on a cold floor in a dark room of her care home counting down hours until she got help. And just yesterday we heard about Ann’s mother who couldn’t feed herself, yet the attentive care she needed was severely lacking in her care home.

Over the past year, we’ve shared many of these stories with the regulator to support its investigation into the care home market.

Today the CMA has reported back on its care home market study and its welcoming to see such a huge win for our campaign, the 100,000 people that have backed it and the thousands of you who kindly shared your experiences with us.

CMA recommendations

Like us, the regulator has questioned the sustainability of the current market. It estimates a funding gap of around £1bn per year and recognises that care home beds must increase as we face a very real shortfall of beds.

For those who are currently dealing with the care system, the regulator has agreed that finding the right information and navigating the system in order to make informed choices is far from easy.

Pressured decisions made in times of extreme stress was a common theme that came through in your stories. The regulator has noted that the basic information must be improved and care homes must provide better information on things like how much services cost and what you’re entitled to.

It also found that it’s too difficult to raise concerns or make complaints. Some of you will recall Pam’s story here on Which? Conversation, Pam explained how her mother was served a short eviction notice after Pam raised concerns about care provision in her mother’s home. The regulator notes that the system for redress and feedback must be improved with more effective consumer protections in place to make it easier to complain and challenge poor care.

Delivering better care

We welcome today’s news and celebrate this with our Care Needs Care Now campaign supporters, but we now set our sights on the government as it has 90 days to respond to these important recommendations.

The CMA’s findings echo the heartbreaking stories we’ve heard from hundreds of people who have struggled with the care system. While the CMA is taking enforcement action and addressing key concerns around compliance with consumer law by some care homes, we need the government to act now.

The government also needs to set out how its upcoming Green Paper will deliver the fundamental reforms needed to secure high quality, affordable care for older people – both now and in the future.

Update: 6 March 2018

After months of waiting, the government has responded to the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) care home market study.

It has broadly welcomed the regulator’s recommendations, but in particular, the government has accepted the recommendation to strengthen protections for elderly residents and their families and improve information too.

On complaints, the government also agreed with the regulator but didn’t commit to bringing in a statutory requirement to signpost to the Ombudsman. On top-up fees and funding the government agreed in principle with the regulator, noting that it will review the extent of the issue and will complete this by October 2018. Finally, on capacity and planning for care homes the government accepted the regulator’s recommendations in principle, but we will await the publishing of its Green Paper in the summer for further details on reforms or funding.’

This is a big win for our Care Needs Care Now campaign and over 100,000 of our campaign supporters. Way back in November, we celebrated the news with our supporters that the CMA recommended urgent action is needed to improve the care home market.

Since November, we’ve been waiting on the government to respond to the regulator’s recommendations. And since then we’ve continued to hear heartbreaking stories about potentially unfair contracts, fees and evictions affecting hundreds of care home residents and their families.

Over the weekend, we shared with you our latest research into unfair care home contracts. The government responded to our research, with the Minister of State for Care Caroline Dinenage stating that the government will seek to change the law if improvements in care aren’t made.

We’re pleased to see the government has acknowledged a change in the law may be needed to protect often vulnerable residents and their relatives. We now want to see Ministers step in to tackle these unscrupulous practices before addressing the fundamental reforms needed to fix the broken social care system in their Green Paper which is due out in the summer.

Do you want the government to take action and address the problems in care system? How else would you improve care?

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