Service user contracts for care providers
It is vital for providers to ensure that service user contracts are well-drafted, compliant with consumer law and watertight to protect against non-payment. We regularly review contracts which are out-of-date, un-enforceable or contain illegal terms.
Following a 12 month study, the CMA has issued draft Guidance to help care providers comply with their consumer law obligations. If implemented in its current form (which we consider is likely) the proposals contained in the draft Guidance will have wide-reaching implications for the way in which care providers (i) provide information to prospective service users prior to admission and (ii) the terms on which contracts are entered into.
The draft Guidance proposes significant changes to way in which many providers currently operate and is likely to require all providers to make operational changes.
These will bring practical challenges, particularly where emergency placements are required. It is vital for providers to ensure that their service user contracts are well-drafted and compliant with consumer law. Failure to do so may result in enforcement action by the CMA, Trading Standards and residents.
Whilst the Guidance won’t be finalised until the Autumn, the CMA are already scrutinising the practices of care providers. We would encourage providers to review their practices and contracts with a view to implementing change as soon as possible.
We have developed a model contract which is compliant with consumer and mental capacity legislation but also draws on our experience of resolving contract issues for and protecting providers. It caters for both residential and nursing homes.
A separate contract has been developed for domiciliary and community care providers. If the CMA issue a model contract it is unlikely it will protect providers in the same way.