Emerging concerns over care home fees and funding

Families are being charged by care homes for extended periods after a resident has died, as well as large upfront fees, a market study has revealed.

The review was conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and began in December. Its aim was to understand why the care home market may not be working well, and to develop proposals to make it work better. The CMA is now investigating the findings in fear that there could be potential breaches in consumer law.

According to the report, care homes comprise a sector worth £15.9 billion a year, with 433,000 people occupying care home places in the UK. On average, 41 per cent of residents are entirely self-funded, 37 per cent are funded by the public purse and others self-fund part of their care or receive other funding.

Some other issues raised include: people finding it difficult to get the information, and confusion about funding options; lack of information about pricing on websites; and little investment for the future. The CMA are considering possible recommendations in relation to these issues, as well as others, to make long-lasting improvements.

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s acting chief executive, said: “Some of the most vulnerable people in our society use care homes, often moving to them under extremely difficult circumstances. It is therefore essential they are able to make informed choices, understand how services will be paid for, and be confident they will be fairly treated and able to complain effectively if they have any concerns. Demand for care home places is expected to surge over the next two decades. To make sure the additional capacity this requires is available, it needs to be built in good time. At present, short-term funding pressures and uncertainty mean that the sector is not attracting investment. We will be focusing on finding ways to deal with these, and other concerns identified.”

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