Betrayers of self-funders’ trust?
That loud clucking noise you can hear is the sound of chickens coming home to roost. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has turned over a rock and found a mess of repellant practices that should have the care home sector hanging its collective head in shame. But the day of reckoning could be nigh.
Not least for providers that exploit self-funders – robbing Peter to pay for Paul, while keeping Peter in the dark, is just one example. If, like me, you have come across pathetic attempts to justify “cross-subsidies” by citing differential pricing for airline seats and hotel rooms, you too may have wondered how holiday jaunts can be compared with once in a lifetime decisions, typically taken at a time of crisis.
While the sector frets about the detrimental effects of unfavourable quality ratings, it seems blind to the reputational damage inflicted by the way in which self-funders are routinely taken to the cleaners. When the CMA market study was announced, industry leaders – a word I use in the loosest possible sense – merely speculated about what they could get away with. Rather than lift a finger to put their house in order, they effectively stuck two fingers up to their residents.
Now, confronted by the watchdog’s damning (interim) verdict*, there’s not a tweet of contrition; all they can offer is either ear-splitting silence or a shameless attempt to blame families for (can you believe it?) failing to study the small print. Let’s not mince words: the practices that caused the CMA such concern should have the providers responsible investigated for institutionalised financial abuse.
Perhaps we should expect no better from a representative sector that makes Monty Python’s wacky ringers – the People’s Front of Judea and the Judea People’s Front – look like the model of a close-knit community.
If there is a crumb of comfort for care homes in the CMA report, it lies in the regulator’s decision to pursue the idea of an independent body overseeing the development of “reasonable fee rates”. Self-interest springs eternal …
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.