Consumer law update: are your residents’ contracts compliant?

The CMA has published guidance highlighting the key changes to consumer law and the possible need for Care Homes to update their agreements to ensure compliance.

Over the past decade, consumer law has developed and evolved significantly, and a number of new acts and regulations have been introduced throughout the UK within this period. In November 2018, the Competition & Markets Authority (‘CMA’) published guidance for Care Home providers on the updates to consumer law and how it directly applies to Care Homes.

The guidance is designed to help Care Homes comply with their consumer law obligations and may require you to make changes to your existing residents’ contracts or terms and conditions. Although consumer law has a far wider reach, the CMA guidance is designed specifically for Care Homes with residents over 65. Failure to comply with consumer law may result in action being brought against a Care Home by the CMA or Trading Standards and it is therefore important to ensure that you are compliant.

The changes in legislation introduce several key principles and the guidance separates them into the following core sections; Upfront Information, Treating Residents Fairly, Quality of Service and Complaints Handling. The core sections introduce ‘dos and don’ts’ for Care Homes and offer suggestions and guidance to enable a Care Home to comply with their consumer law responsibilities.

The obligations apply to a Care Home both before and after a resident has moved in and requires Care Homes to provide upfront information so that a resident can make informed decisions. All contracts must be transparent and unambiguous and not place residents at an unfair disadvantage. The scope of the services that a Care Home provides, and the pricing associated with each aspect of the service should be clearly outlined within a contract also. There are also specific requirements outlined relating to price increases, varying terms, notice periods and resident absences to be considered and comply with. Hempsons can assist with reviewing existing contracts and ensuring yours are fit for purpose – call us for a no obligation initial free discussion.