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  • Sarah Whitebloom

Care homes are unfair says the CMA: Is anyone surprised?

THE care home market is underfunded by councils and unfair to self-funding residents, according to the Competition and Markets Authority. Who knew?...Everyone.

Anyone who has had anything to do with residential homes over the last decade knows that it is time to sort out social care funding and it is an open 'secret' that self-funders are paying more for the same care than council-funded residents.

It is worth saying again, though, so one cheer for the CMA.

What must really be welcomed in the CMA's report is its emphasise on the need to protect residents as consumers and provide better protection for people in care homes both in terms of charges and treatment. The CMA stresses the need for proper complaints procedures and more transparency in terms of fees. It also says that consumers are not given enough information and advice about care homes - which is one of the reasons OLM was created.

Of course, all this does leave one wondering what the Care Quality Commission and local authority social services departments have been doing all these years. They have long been charged with regulating care home providers, dispensing information and cracking down on bad practice. But, as OLM points out elsewhere, the CQC (and come to that local authorities) are desperate to keep care homes open.

A major problem, not addressed by the CMA, however, is that those care homes groups which are so good at demanding more money, are not always so good when it comes to delivering good care - at any price. Take a look at some of those high-end homes, which do not take council-funded residents but charge up to £1,400 a week. Rather too many are still failing to provide the care that residents need and for which they pay.

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