Care home providers are failing to provide residents and their families with important information about terms and conditions in contracts, an investigation has found.
Consumer watchdog Which? contacted 50 homes to request information, including a sample contract, on the premise of looking for care for an elderly relative.
Only four homes provided contracts, with three of these containing terms described by Which? as “unfair to residents”.
These included charging fees a month after death and the right to terminate a contract with 24 hours notice for “detrimental behaviour”.
Which? said the remaining 46 homes refused to provide a sample contract and in many cases urged investigators to visit the home or directed them to websites that did not provide the information requested.
A Which? survey of 500 members of the public with experience of care homes contracts also found just over half said the provider checked if they understood the contract they had signed, while a quarter said the care home had checked whether terms and conditions were understood.
Responding to the investigation, vice chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board Linda Thomas (Lab) said it is important that individuals and their families are supported during what can be a stressful and emotional time.
She added: “Councils have duties to provide information and advice on the care system, the types of care available, providers and how to access support.
“This is part of a wider process of helping people through the care system, and providers have an important role to play in ensuring that people understand their care contracts and are comfortable with them. This is important for transparency, certainty, understanding and peace of mind.”
Cllr Thomas added the reforms promised following the social care green paper due in the summer must help people plan for loved ones’ future care needs, as well as establish a sustainable funding solution to ensure high-quality care.