If you own or run a care home anywhere in the UK, you must ensure your residents are treated fairly under consumer law. This applies to both state-funded residents and those who pay their own fees.
Care home owners and managers will need to be very clear about how consumer law applies to them and adapt as reforms are made. The consequences of breaking these laws are stark – with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), local authority trading standards services and other relevant organisations able to take enforcement action against you. This can be done via the civil or criminal courts and they can also seek redress for residents who have lost out due to consumer law breaches. It is important to remember that if you are taken to court, the judge will take into account that care home residents can be very vulnerable or in poor health.
Complying with your obligations is vital, but it can be difficult to stay on top of all the various laws and regulations. Business Companion (part of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute) have released a free online guide to help owners and registered managers adhere to all the relevant laws and fair trading requirements.
The materials, written by experts, will give you an overview of all the key consumer laws you need to follow to treat your residents fairly. There is also comprehensive information on the subject of contracts, helping you to ensure your contracts are equitable and balanced, clearly defining what services a resident is entitled to and what rights they have. There is also guidance on the terms that allow you to make changes after a contract has been signed.
The guide also supplies a variety of checklists so you can assess what you’ve got covered and what you need get on top of. Practical staff training is also included with training sheets.
For further information:
Care homes: fair trading | Business Companion
Business Companion covers trading standards law for England, Scotland and Wales. For guidance on the law in Northern Ireland, please see nibusinessinfo.co.uk.