Many care homes are not meeting their legal requirements, according to research by consumer magazine, Which?
Thousands of older people and their families could be hit by unexpected bills and tied into unfair contracts, the research says.
Analysis of 100 care home websites found that 86 provided no pricing information, 91 offered no detail on any charges made in addition to room rates, and only three care home providers made their terms and conditions available online.
Which? also said that care home providers could be breaching consumer protection laws with unfair terms and conditions, following a review of sample contracts and case studies.
The research also found that, despite it being it being a legal requirement, 27% of care homes failed to display their CQC rating online or did so poorly, in some cases making it almost impossible to find.
Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets at Which?, said: “The problems uncovered by our research are very troubling, given the potential impact on both those receiving and arranging care.
“Care home providers are making it far too difficult for many elderly people and their families to find the vital information they need to make important decisions about their care, with some expecting them to commit to unfair contracts.”
Which? called on the Competition and Markets Authority, which is carrying out an investigation into the sector, (see BREAKING NEWS: CMA investigates whether care homes are breaking the law) to deliver reforms “that significantly improve people’s experiences of care homes”.
Alex added: “The CMA must now ensure that reforms are brought forward to stamp out these poor practices wherever they exist, starting with greater transparency from providers to ensure that people are properly protected at all stages of the process of finding and securing care.”