Care home bosses warned 'revenge evictions' could be illegal
Care home bosses have been warned 'revenge evictions' could be illegal, as the regulator confirms it has begun collecting data to examine the scale of the problem.
Watchdogs have raised concerns over the problem of vulnerable elderly people being kicked out of their care homes because their family members have complained.
The Competition and Markets Authority has said the practice is "highly likely to be unfair under consumer law".
A spokesman told the Sunday Telegraph: "We have heard serious concerns that some care homes may be unfairly evicting residents or banning visitors as a punishment for making a complaint.
"No one should face eviction for simply complaining. It is essential that people feel safe enough to complain when they have a grievance, without the threat of eviction or a ban.
"That’s why we have already urged the Government and sector regulators to strengthen current protections, as well as taking steps ourselves to ensure all care homes understand and comply with their obligations under consumer law."
Consumer watchdog Which? said during a call for evidence last year 14 people came forward to say a family member had been evicted after a complaint had been made about the home.
It said the figures were likely to be "the tip of the iceberg" as many relatives were too afraid to come forward and there was no official data on the issue.
In one case a respondent to the survey, who did not want to be named, said the care home had issued a "gagging order" after they complained about a relative's care.
The home said "they would take me to court for slander and told me my parents were no longer welcome at the nursing home and had two weeks of their fees paid and wanted them out by then," the person claimed. Other respondents alleged physical abuse which had resulted in an eviction notice when they complained.
"My mother of 96 yrs with dementia. Dozens of bruises, head, arms, hands, legs, hip etc., when we asked questions as to how she was getting them we were given notice of 28 days," the response said.
Alex Hayman, Which? Managing Director of Public Markets, said: “The stories we heard in the space of a few months suggest these appalling practices - which some people might see as revenge evictions - could be far more widespread.
"They have devastating consequences for residents and their families, some of whom told us they are too scared to even make a complaint in the first place.
"The Government must urgently set out plans to strengthen consumer protections for care home residents to ensure no-one falls victim to unfair evictions, contracts or fees. “Ministers should ensure action is included in the Goverment’s upcoming response to the competition regulator’s market study of care homes.”
The warning comes as the care home regulator in England said it had already begun collecting data from care homes to examine the scale of the issue.
The Care Quality Commission, which inspects care homes, revealed that it has begun asking businesses how many residents they had asked to leave. The Commission said the new question was part of its plan to overhaul and digitise its annual survey of care homes.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "Residents in care homes and their families rightly expect the highest standards of care and it is completely unacceptable for anyone to be forced to leave unfairly.
"We are considering the findings of the CMA report carefully to ensure instances like these are dealt with.”
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