CARE homes groups will have been delighted yesterday at the Competition and Markets Authority’s argument that they should receive at least £200 million more per year from local authorities. But they should not be as pleased at another key element of the report – the emphasis on the the resident as consumer.
Taken to its logical conclusion, yesterday’s report has opened the door to care home residents and local authorities refusing to pay for poor care – or possibly, as OLM has previously argued, care home owners being financially penalised for providing inadequate services.
Looking at the report in detail, the CMA emphasises the consumer rights of the care home resident. And, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau, a consumer who has received poor service, can approach the provider in this way:
‘If you agreed the work before 1 October 2015, The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 says that reasonable care and skill must be used when providing a service.’
The CRB says, you can tell your supplier: ‘In my opinion, you did not use reasonable care and skill when you provided this service. I want you to fix the problem/give me a price reduction.’
It continues: ‘If you agreed the work on or after 1 October 2015, you can say: “The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that services must be provided with reasonable care and skill. In my opinion, you did not use reasonable care and skill when you provided this service. I want you to fix the problem/give me a price reduction.”’
Obviously, in terms of care, if an individual is in receipt of care which is demonstrably substandard – and not what they paid for – then they, as a consumer, should be entitled to a discount for the period when it was substandard and continues to be substandard. In the case of some care homes, this could be a very long time.
This is not just a fanciful idea. In the United States, precisely this argument has been used legally to force care home owners to provide a decent service and extract millions in compensation from groups which have provided poor care.
Coming to a court room near here? Let’s hope so.