Why we need the care sector equivalent of TripAdvisor

Choosing care homes is stressful enough. Worrying about how loved ones will be looked after and if they’ll be happy there are all emotional and difficult decisions. However, it’s made worse by the complicated rules surrounding care - and how there only seems to be a bare minimum set of standards.

Setting standards

A recent article in the Times highlighted how care home fees for one resident had increased 31% in four years, costing more than £1,400 per week. While the family featured in this article were pleased with the care received by their loved one, it begs the question why so many others fall short.

The family in the article tells of two previous nursing homes where care was not adequately provided, yet they would continue to send letters every year justifying those increases by a rise in fuel prices, minimum wage etc. Even though this particular family asked for a further break down of those fees, the care homeowners did not reply. It led them to investigate these care homes further, and found that there were little to no standards set by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and that those checks were carried out infrequently, so inspection certificates were quite often out of date.

Rated zero stars

The problem is, this family recognised that the care sector is overstretched and understaffed, and it wasn’t the care staff themselves but rather the management of the homes that fell short. This presents a wider issue as to the duty of care to vulnerable people - and whether or not they are being exploited. There’s also a social and political issue, as to whether or not those who can pay are subsidising council-funded places - yet it seems again there is little regulation, or limit, as to what these care homes can charge.

There almost needs to be a review of care homes, which can then be listed according to price and experience. Perhaps this “Trip Advisor” style of working would help expose more cases of homes that are badly managed, and force the government to act.

Take legal advice

Another lesson from the sad case of this family is to make sure you check all documentation thoroughly. If there are any clauses that allow the home to increase fees without justification, this should be a red flag and questions should be asked. As well as any contracts, it’s also worth seeking advice about any finances, lasting powers of attorney as well as planning for covering the cost of care home fees.

Downs Solicitors can help. Our Private Client team understands how confusing it can be for families who are also trying to cope with the practical issues, as well as juggling their own families, at what can be an extremely stressful, emotional and worrying time.

Contact us to see how we can help.

Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking Office

Email: [email protected]