Consumer Law Guidance from the CMA - have you reviewed your terms and conditions?28/11/18
The long-awaited final consumer law guidance for residential care homes and nursing homes for the over 65s has been published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The full guidance is available here. There is also a short form guide for businesses and one for residents and their representatives available here.
Four key areas are identified in the guidance:
- Upfront information - what information must be provided, when and how;
- Treating residents fairly - your contract terms and conditions and the way residents and their representatives are treated;
- Quality of service - compliance with your obligation to perform services to residents with reasonable care and skill; and
- Complaints handling - your procedure must be easy to find, easy to use, fair and consistent.
It is essential that care home operators:
- familiarise themselves with this guidance;
- review terms and conditions and business practices to ensure compliance; and
- train staff to ensure they understand and comply with the guidance.
The CMA will undertake a review of the care home sector, commencing in November 2019, to “assess how well care homes are complying with consumer law”. It has also stated it may take “further action before then if it finds care homes are treating residents and their families unfairly and breaking the law”.
Media attention, as well as the attention of the regulators, is focussed on this sector, therefore it is essential to check your contracts and business practices in order to ensure compliance and to avoid criticism, complaints and enforcement action.
Making sure your terms are compliant is not just about good-housekeeping and fairness to residents. The recent Sunrise case (which resulted in an estimated repayment of c£2m to residents/their estates) will be very much in the minds of care home investors and their advisers, who will be focussed on ensuring that there are no ‘hidden surprises’ brought about by non-compliant terms when assessing potential acquisition opportunities.
How can Capsticks help?
You may wish to revise your terms to ensure they are up to date for your ongoing business or as part of your preparations for the sale of your business. We can help by conducting a compliance review in accordance with the latest CMA guidance and by revising your terms your terms of business.
Delivering value for money
If you are unsure whether your terms are fully compliant we will conduct a review of your terms of business in relation to the new CMA guidance and report to you on key issues and risks for £750 + VAT.
For more information please contact Mike Clifford, Sarah Skuse or Anjli Vyas.