Guidance

Tell the CMA about a consumer protection issue with a care home

Published 2 December 2016

We want to hear from you if you or your relatives feel you may have been treated unfairly by a care or nursing home – this could be because you have concerns about the fairness of the care home’s contract (terms and conditions) or because you think the care home has behaved in an unfair or misleading way, before or after you moved in.

The information you provide is very important as it will help us to better understand the kinds of consumer protection issues experienced by residents and their families, as part of our market study. If you want to tell us about other issues related to our market study, please see our statement of scope.

What type of consumer protection issues is the CMA interested in hearing about?

What you were told before you moved in

  • Did the care home give you a contract to sign? How clear did you find the terms?
  • Did you understand what the weekly fees would be, what those fees did and did not include, when fees might increase, and/or when additional charges would be made?
  • Did you have to pay a deposit or advance payment up front? Did the care home explain what it was for or when it would be returned?
  • Were you asked to ‘guarantee’ payment of fees and was it made clear to you by the care home what your obligations were, or did you have to commit to paying the fees for a minimum period?

Changes that happened after you moved in

  • Has the care home put the fees up, backdated them, or reduced the quality of your care without changing the fees you pay? If so, were you expecting this and were the reasons made clear?
  • How much notice did you get? Did you feel you could do anything about the fee increase or other change?
  • Were you asked to pay a ‘top-up’ fee/contribution by the care home? If so, was it explained to you what the payment was for, what your obligations were and when and in what circumstances the amount might increase?

Dealing with your concerns if things went wrong

  • Have you ever complained to the care home? How well was your complaint handled? Was the issue resolved? What happened as a result?
  • Have you ever felt discouraged from complaining about your care or that of someone else?
  • Have you ever felt that you have been treated unfairly, negatively, or differently by the care home for pursuing a complaint?

Leaving the care home

  • If you’ve moved out of a care home, was it difficult to end the contract? Did you feel the notice period was too long? Did you have to pay for any period of time when you or your relative were not actually living in the care home/had already left?
  • If you are a relative of a resident who has died in a care home, were you required to pay for any periods of time after they passed away?
  • Were there any unexpected deductions from your deposit or other surprising fees? If so, how was this matter resolved?

This is not a comprehensive list – you may have experience of other types of contract terms or business practices that mean residents or their families may not be getting a fair deal from their care or nursing home.

Please note that if your concern is about the standard of care being provided by a care or nursing home (for example poor care) rather than a consumer protection issue, then instead of contacting the CMA you can use the links below to report those concerns to the appropriate regulatory body for care services (depending on the country where the care or nursing home is located). These are England (Care Quality Commission), Scotland (Care Inspectorate), Wales (Care and Social Services Inspectorate), Northern Ireland (Regulation & Quality Improvement Authority).

How can I report my concerns to the CMA?

If you want to get in touch to tell us about your experiences, please email carehomes@cma.gsi.gov.uk and provide:

  • your name
  • your contact details
  • the name and address of the care or nursing home concerned
  • whether you or your relative fund your own care, are fully funded by your local authority/other funding authority, or are part-funded and pay a top-up fee
  • information on the consumer protection issue you wish to tell us about
  • copies of any supporting information you may have, such as copies of the care home contract/agreement and any correspondence from and with the care or nursing home

Whilst we will acknowledge receipt of your email, we will not usually enter into any correspondence or dialogue about it unless we need to request further information.


Please note that we are unable to offer advice or intervene in individual complaints or disputes. If you want to seek advice you can contact the organisations listed at the bottom of this page.

If you prefer to send information by post, then please send it to:

Project Manager
Care Homes Market Study
7th Floor
Competition and Markets Authority
Victoria House
37 Southampton Row
London WC1B 4AD

How will the CMA use my information?

The information you provide will inform our market study by helping us better understand the sorts of consumer protection issues that residents and their families may face, whether existing consumer laws are being complied with, and whether they adequately protect you. Our intention is to publish an aggregated and anonymised summary of submissions by individuals relating to personal experiences and specific complaints, as part of our market study. However, if you prefer, you can indicate if you would like your response to be published in full.

Where appropriate, the information you provide may also help us decide if it’s necessary for the CMA (or another enforcer) to take action against a care home provider, where there is evidence that they may have breached consumer law.

Giving us information does not necessarily mean the CMA (or another enforcer) will open an investigation or take action against the care home in question. Further information about how the CMA prioritises information and complaints it receives about businesses can be found here.

Will my information be shared with anyone else?

If you’re worried about your identity being revealed, please let us know when you contact us. Unless you tell us otherwise, we will assume that you are content for the information you provide to the CMA to be used by us in our work. Our work could involve taking enforcement action against a care home ourselves, using our own powers, or passing your information to another enforcement authority (such as local authority Trading Standards Services) or to another regulator for them to consider whether any action is necessary.

Any information you provide to us will be handled in accordance with our obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 and with other legislation designed to protect individual privacy. The CMA will only share the information you have provided in specific and limited circumstances which are set out in legislation.

Sources of advice

If you need consumer advice on any contractual issues you have with a care or nursing home, you can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06, or visit the Citizens Advice website. If you are in Northern Ireland, you can call Consumerline on 0300 123 6262, or visit their website.

If you want advice about any other issues with a care or nursing home, there are a range of other bodies you can contact which operate helplines – these include (but are not limited to) charities such as: