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Later Life Ambitions comments on the Competition and Markets Authority Care homes market study

Later Life Ambitions comments on the Competition and Markets Authority Care homes market study

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a report on their review into whether the residential care homes sector is working for older people and their families. This follows a consultation process earlier in the year which LLA responded to.  

The report states that there should be reform of the care home sector so that people get the support they need in their old age. The report identified the following issues:

  • The care system in the UK is not sustainable without additional funding. Financial analysis of the sector identified that an additional £1 billion a year is required.
  • Although there currently is not enough investment in new accommodation for council-funded residents, the sector must also grow substantially as the population ages.
  • The public choose care homes during “emotionally traumatic” periods, and the information and support needed to make informed decisions is often not available.
  • Protection for people in care homes should be improved. It is often difficult for residents and their families to raise concerns or make complaints, and the systems for redress and feedback are not effective enough. Examples of the CMA’s concerns include where homes are not being clear about their prices or terms and conditions, do not protect residents’ deposits effectively against the risk of insolvency, and are not fair when asking a resident to leave or when they ban visitors.

The CMA’s report made a number of recommendations, including some that LLA specifically suggested. For example, LLA highlighted the need to improve consumer protection to ensure that some business practices such as charging large upfront fees and charging families for extended periods after a resident has died, are properly regulated. We are pleased that the CMA will be consulting on such fees, along with separate, wider guidance for care homes on the standards of behaviour that they should be meeting to comply with consumer law.

We welcome the spotlight the report has shone on the broken care home market in the UK. This is a sector that many hundreds of thousands of older people rely on, and is clear that urgent reform is needed.

The report reinforces the experiences that many of our members have told us about – namely that the business practices of some care home operators are unfair on older people and their families at a hugely difficult time in their lives.

We urge the Government to act upon the CMA’s advice and support the sustainability of care homes immediately. This is more important than ever as news emerges today of another large care home chain on the brink of collapse. It is clear that the sector is under real stress, and if action isn’t taken, it will be older people who loose out.

The CMA’s full report is available to read online here.