/ Health, Home & Energy, Parenting

Your care home stories have helped make change happen

The Competition and Markets Authority has secured £2m compensation from the care homes provider Sunrise Senior Living Ltd after it charged residents unclear upfront fees. And it’s partly thanks to you.

Over a year ago, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) asked the Which? community if we could help them gather evidence for their market study into care homes. The regulator was keen to learn about people’s poor experiences when dealing with care homes to feed into its investigations and final conclusions about whether the care home market really delivers for people who rely on its support.

And boy did we deliver. Over the course of the year, over a thousand of you shared your stories with the regulator – twice as much evidence as they were able to gather themselves! And this week, your stories bore fruit.

£2m in compensation

Through its consumer protection investigation, the CMA has secured £2m in compensation from the large care home provider, Sunrise Senior Living Ltd, for charging unclear upfront fees to care home residents and their families.

This win means that a whopping average of £3,000 will be paid back to each individual who was charged these fees since October 2015. The care home provider has also committed to stop charging these fees to future residents.

This week has been an important lesson for me as a campaigner. People’s experiences are incredibly important. If we want those who have the power to change things to actually change things then they need to know what’s going on, what impact it’s having on us and why it’s so important they act. And this week’s result has demonstrated that our actions and stories have impact.

So this is a big thank you – by sharing your stories, we achieved change and helped many people who’ve suffered from poor practice and contract terms get compensation, and saved many others from shelling out huge costs in the future too.

There’s still more to do

We’re going to continue pressing other care home providers to follow suit and scrap their unclear upfront fees. We’ll also urge the government to follow through on its commitments made in March 2018 to strengthen protections for residents and their families. We hope we can keep calling on your support to make change happen together.

Are you concerned about the UK care system and our rapidly ageing population?

Yes – it's a growing crisis. (97%, 2,028 Votes)

No – we'll cope with it. (2%, 43 Votes)

Not sure. (1%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,101

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That’s good news, Neena. Care home fees are necessarily expensive but it’s only fair that customers and their families who foot the bills are fully informed of charges.

I have always wondered if Which? relies mainly on information provided on Which? Convo and email, or if those who comment are contacted for further detail.

Thanks Neena. It’s good to know. If and when we need to live in a care home we might no longer be in a fit state to fight for our rights if we are exploited.

Well done, that’s great news.

If you have worked all your life, and purchased your own home, why do we have to pay for care, when those who have not made provisions for there old age get looked after by the state ?

DaybreakGirl says:
11 May 2018

I agree basically with you but not everyone has had the opportunity to buy their own house or save. I am 70 have worked all my life, never owed money, but never been on holiday, never had a house, never ever seemed to have enough coming in other than the essentials, bills, rent, food. Clothes secondhand usually. No credit cards. I wish it could have been different and I had something of value to pay for any care I may need in the future but I don’t so there it is.

a.s.cater says:
12 May 2018

I can see it from your point of view and sympathise, however for people in your situation the government should support you and pay for your fees. What is happening is that those who have money through there own efforts are being overcharged and penalised to cover the shortfall of funds and this is not fair.

My sister will be seventy this year. She worked for 30 years and didn’t spend much as she was living with her parents. Now that she is in a care home, she is, or at least was, when she went in, the only person paying for her care. It is a great place, she is settled and happy and I am pleased that she is content. It just seems strange that the only person paying is someone with Downs syndrome.

Hiresh says:
11 May 2018

That’s a great news, keep up your good work and listen.

I think it is unfair that those people who are self funding are having to subsidise those paid for by the local authority. The rates paid by the L A are so miserly in comparison and the homes say they need to make up the shortfall somehow. Where I live, all the L A homes are being closed down.

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I think one important thing you have failed to mention that the decision by CMA is applicable to those residents/ families who pay their fee upfront and in the event the resident dies or leaves the home, do not get the fee back on a pro rata basis from the care home .

There is nothing wrong to charge the fee upfront as long as the care home refunds the fee , on a pro rata basis, if the resident dies or leaves. To make a up front charge is very common and legal in businesses.

It seems we were very fortunate. When my mam died we were only charged till the day she died. Her care was part county council funded and part privately funded. I wonder if that made a difference? We also claimed restitution for the care she paid for when it should have been classed a “nursing care”.

ann says:
11 May 2018

The underlying problem is the total privatisation of care homes and care. Bring back government care homes and care. Please start a which campaign for the return of statutory care homes and care. It would also save the government a lot of money and we get a better and more accountable service.

mary says:
11 May 2018

Totally agree.
Privatisation is not the best way forward. They should never have sold of council owned homes and kept it in house.
Where they had control.

I agree with the principle of state run homes but some years ago when I was looking for a care home for my mother the government run state homes were appalling. They were overcrowded and there appeared to be no activities on offer. The old folk therein just sat around all day until someone took them off for a meal, or bed. I visited more than six such care homes and decided that they were totally unsuitable for my mother. As a result I chose a privately run home which had kind staff and a
pleasant atmosphere. The cost was exorbitant but having sold her previous home
I was able to afford the fees. She remained in that home for over 10 years until she died.

The NHS Continuing Health Care system is the biggest disgrace. The government is dragging its feet dealing with the unfairness in the way many people who are entitled to have their care paid by the NHS are refused.

I am on the waiting list and I am worried if I will be able to afford my stay.

Nigel says:
11 May 2018

What about residents who joined Sunrise before 2015?
My mother was charged a one off community charge of £5000 in September 2014

Hi Nigel, we asked the CMA this question for you and here’s there response:

“The 1 October 2015 date reflects the CMA’s powers, which are determined and set out in legislation. The CMA and other enforcers can seek redress for consumers when they consider consumers have suffered loss as a result of a businesses’ actions. However, these measures only became available to the CMA and other enforcers on the 1st October 2015. Therefore, we are unable to seek redress for consumers before this date.”

Please let me know if you have any questions about this.

Excellent news a very well done, I am a pensioner myself and I do worry about my future especially as I live by myself.

Diane T says:
11 May 2018

My experience is that the council will at all costs make a person pay for there own care.
It is time a method was set up by the government to fund care home payments with deductions from pensions.
We pay National Insurance contributions all our working life then nothing is paid back for old age care.
We should stop blaming councils and lay the blame on the government in power.

mary says:
11 May 2018

Totally agree with your comments.
I am an ex registered nurse.
Homes need to be more regulated reference how they deal with finance and what people pay.
My mother had been in care since 2006. Has spent 300k+
Sadly she passed away 2weeks ago and her estate now has to pay 2weeks of fees after her demise.
I am not happy with this at all.
Older people are being ripped off.
I realise care costs and worked in a nursing profession for 22 years.
Sadly care has been tendered out by these councils in the community too.
the cost and hourly rates are ridiculous and unaffordable to poorer and middle class families.
Every company has to make a profit to survive but most of these key workers giving care are on the national wage.
There are so many issues that need addressing by this government but no body feels the need to do so.
Every government buries there head in the sand.

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This has arrived on my email was it directed at me as I do not recall doing something wrong?

This has arrived on my email was it directed at me as I do not recall doing something wrong?

My step father has been in a care home for 5 years and is self funding He is 92 yrs old.His money is running out . If he is to stay where he is ,then I will have to make up the difference [between the council funding, or moving him to another care home ]even though he married my mother when I was 25 yrs old and i never lived at home .I am a pensioner myself.. I feel it is unfair that he has spent nearly £100,000 already out of his own money .[my mother died 10 yrs ago]

Much of the problem with care homes is down to a lack of local authority funding. My authority is looking to save money.

Do you want better council services?

There’s a way to free up £18m every year which can be reinvested in things like road and pavement repairs, schools, affordable housing, parks and libraries. ( no mention of care homes).

This is done by cutting out all the bureaucracy and duplication which exists under our current system of five district and county councils.

So, instead of five highly-paid senior management teams, there’d be just one.

Well, I’d rather we had no highly paid senior management team, just one that was sensibly paid. 🙁

The National Insurance scheme was never intended to cover adult social care. Provision of last resort was made by local authorities, generally in their own establishments. Everyone else had to survive on their own or their family’s resources. The state has provided medical care free at the point of delivery under the National Health Service but that is limited to making people better who are ill rather than keeping people alive through continuing care. The medicines that elderly people require are free of charge but the administration of them and the ongoing welfare of the client are a private responsibility. Unfortunately this has become extremely expensive, especially if it goes on for a long period. I don’t think there would be much difference in the overall cost whether it was done by the NHS [and recharged to taxation] or, as at present, through commercial or charitable provision and sometimes partly funded by the local authority, sometimes funded through an insurance plan, or taken straight from the recipient’s own financial resources, but there would be a difference in the impact on individuals. If the costs were rolled into general taxation they would effectively be equalised [except that the burden would fall almost entirely on the working population]. There is no simple way of gauging how long any individual will live and what their continuing care costs will be, although actuarial formulae no doubt exist. It is largely a matter of luck and circumstances. The government needs to recognise this in its forthcoming Green Paper on adult social care and identify an equitable way of making it possible for people to fund their care without ruining them financially, although it has to be said that those who need the most care and for the longest duration will inevitably have to pay the most. This distresses families who see their relative’s assets drawn down to fund the provision. But is there any realistic alternative if the client does actually have the resources to do so? My mother used to argue that it was unfair that many people could be provided for by the state at no cost to themselves because they had made no financial provision for their old age, whereas people like her who had modest savings would receive no support until their funds were depleted to a low level. I have never found a rational answer to this and perhaps we should accept that there isn’t one – it is part of the unpredictability of life itself and we should not complain about relative inequalities. To stay alive is the objective and arguing about who pays and how much and for how long is unhelpful. Can we put a price on an extended life? Can we really penalise those who are not in a position to fund their care? Only a compulsory means-tested state-managed insurance system both collecting the charges throughout all adults’ lives and providing a universal standard level of care [leaving people free to opt out of the care but not out of the premiums if they can fund their care independently]. I think I would prefer to stick with the system we have but made more appropriate for today’s conditions and longevity rates.

I did post the following in a previous Convo:
According to a 2011 report, the average length of stay in a care home for the over 65s was 909 days. 2.5 years. At, say, £1000 a week that costs £130 000. Government statistics show 3.2% of the population over 65 are in care homes, and the figure is fairly stable. So if all the population over 65 had saved £4160, that would have paid for the care of those 3.2% (actually, less because around a third are self payers, many of whom may have the requisite means to self fund). So if we all save £2 a week during our working life we could fund our possible need for care in old age. Is that too big a price to pay?”

After taking over the care of my mother and leaving my home to be with her 24hrs a day for 4 years , she went into a care home on short term basis whilst I made changes to the house ie electric and heating , then after making the changes Durham County Council refused to let her home and applied behind my back to the courts for some type of Power of Attorney by saying I had been stealing from my mother! which is perjury and defamation of character , a few weeks later I noticed her benefits stopped and her life insurance and funeral insurance package weren’t being pain leaving my mother with no cover !
Since then they have demanded I leave her house so they can sell it even though i’m still looking after her pets and gave up my own home to be with my mother .I’m physically disable but took control of everything from day and made sure all of her care needs took place daily and had carers in for the more personal jobs . I’m disgusted how my mother is being used to fund the system as I have been told my mother house should not be used as collateral as i’m her disabled son living in the same property .
I feel that’s the only reason they refuse her to come home because she could receive 24 hour one to one care with two cares doing 12 hour day and night shifts .

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