A complaint against the “dysfunctional” care home
market has been made to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) by the
Consumers’ Association and a coalition of 28 charities,
writes Natasha Salari and Maggie
The campaigning body has joined forces with an umbrella
organisation, Social Policy Ageing Information Network (SPAIN),
which represents charities including Help the Aged, Age Concern
England and Carers UK, to call for further investigation into the
care home sector.
The association said there was evidence to show that fees paid
by public authorities to private companies and charities were often
insufficient to cover the costs of care.
This can lead to private residents being charged more than local
authority residents in order to make up the cash shortfall.
Relatives of local authority residents are being forced to cover
the real cost of care, and in some cases residents themselves are
expected to top-up “inadequate” local authority fees,
the complaint continues.
Meanwhile in Scotland, many older people are being disadvantaged
by the system set up to provide free personal and nursing care,
according to Age Concern Scotland.
The problem arises for older people who may wish to enter into
an “integrated contract” with the care home and the
local authority. Many care homes refuse to accept a person, who has
funding from the local authority for free personal and nursing
care, but who is able to pay the cost of accommodation
It requires the care home to come to an agreement with the local
authority for the cost of accommodation, and many are unwilling to
do this because local authority contracts routinely set a ceiling
on such costs.
In effect those who are self-funding are disadvantaged because
they are denied access to cheaper contracts and choice of care
home. The implementation of free personal and nursing care was
designed to end such anomalies, and encourage the expansion of care
services across Scotland.
A spokesperson from Age Concern Scotland said: “In
principle, whilst the benefit of free personal and nursing care
goes to all, self-funders suffer in terms of access to cheaper
contracts and choice. A self-funded place can cost as much as
£650 per week, whilst a local authority assisted place can be
nearer £400 per week.”
The Scottish executive said that little could be done as
“independent providers cannot be forced to accept
A spokesperson from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
(Cosla) confirmed that a working group involving public, voluntary
and private providers has been looking at anomalies in funding, and
that a report is due at the end of the year.