The Competition and Markets Authority has issued an “advisory letter” to all businesses hosting online reviews, comments or feedback about care homes.
The seven-page document, dated 11 February and signed by CMA project director Jon Riley, “encourages” care home review sites to assess their processes and practices for reviewing care homes and consider whether they need to make any changes to comply with the law.
Yesterday the CMA confirmed that three of the most prominent care home review sites – Carehome.co.uk, Care Opinion and Most Recommended Care – are set to amend certain policies connected to the way they review homes.
As reported by Care Home Professional here, each of them agreed to make bespoke improvements in response to specific concerns raised by the CMA. This ranged from ensuring that reviews are subject to stronger verification processes to removing the automatic right of care homes to restrict the publication of reviews.
This week’s developments follow a June 2015 report into online reviews and endorsements, which noted concerns about the potential for review sites to distort the picture presented to consumers. That led the CMA to open discussions with the three care home review sites referenced above about altering the way that they check and present reviews.
In the letter issued to all care home review sites from Jon Riley, the CMA offers guidance on how the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) are likely to apply to such providers.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we have not specifically investigated nor formed a view as to whether your business is in breach of the law,” he writes.
Riley adds: “The CMA has also been working with the Scottish government, the Care Quality Commission and NHS Choices in relation to their partnerships with care home review sites. We have asked them, going forward, to draft their partnership agreements to make clear reference to the CPRs and the CMA’s expectations.”
The letter, including the CMA’s sector-specific advice for care home review sites, can be read in full here.