Why we're taking on the care business and how you can help

Many people have complained about the way the care home system works.
Many people have complained about the way the care home system works.

It was only two months ago that Which? launched our Care Needs Care Now campaign to raise awareness about the potential future shortfall of care home beds and already there’s been significant action.

In fact, it’s like Christmas has come early now that the Competition and Markets Authority agrees with us that urgent government action is needed.

Back in October our research revealed that the UK is facing a crisis in the number of care home beds available within the next five years - people are living longer and so demand for good quality care for the elderly is growing, but the care sector is not keeping pace.

We called on the CMA to listen to your experiences dealing with care homes - some of them extremely concerning.

One man told us how his wife would be routinely left on the cold floor of a dark room for hours before getting help, another family told us how their mother wasn’t receiving the help she needed to eat - these are among many stories we’ve shared with the regulator.

Now the CMA has revealed its own findings and like us - and the 100,000 people who backed our campaign - it has questioned the sustainability of the current market.

It estimates a funding gap of around £1billion a year and an urgent increase in the number of beds required.

Like many of you the CMA found that getting information - even on costs and what services are available - to make an informed choice can be difficult and that people feel so pressured at such a stressful time that bad decisions can be made.

And it found that it can be difficult to raise concerns or make complaints because, shockingly, of a fear it might impact on a loved one’s care.

The CMA report backs our campaign and the stories shared with us.

It is now taking action around care home compliance with consumer laws, but the government needs to act too.

It needs to set out how its upcoming green paper will deliver the fundamental reforms needed to secure high quality affordable care for older people now and in the future.

But if you’re worried about unsatisfactory care in a care home then visit our website www.which.co.uk, to find out just what you can do about it.

* Send me your consumer queries to askalex@which.co.uk

PRESSURE POINTS

The systems of regulating care homes in Scotland and Wales are different from England but the pressures on the market are no different.

We’ve set our sights on the government, which has to respond to the CMA report in 90 days, and we’re sure the governments in Scotland and Wales will also be watching with interest.