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'Unfair' language in nursing home contracts led residents into terms they would never agree to

The CCPC has published new guidelines for the sector today.

Image: Shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevych

THE COMPETITION AND Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has published new consumer protection guidelines for contracts of care in Irish nursing homes.

The mandatory guidelines aim to provide greater transparency and clarity for nursing home residents and their families by outlining the responsibilities that operators of homes must adhere to under consumer protection law.

It follows an 18-month review of the sector by the CCPC, which says it found examples of potentially unfair terms that were being used by nursing home operators in contracts.

These included terms which allowed for significant changes to contracts without the consultation of residents or their representatives.

During its review, the CCPC found that the language used in nursing home contracts was often technical and could not be easily understood.

In some cases, the commission also found that important information was not provided to residents, which could have prevented them from making an informed decision about their care.

The chairperson of the CCPC, Isolde Goggin said that a lack of transparency in contracts risked tying residents into terms that they didn’t understand or would never agree to.

“The decision to move into residential care is usually taken in stressful circumstances,” she said.

“For many people, there are limited options to choose from and moving to another nursing home, if you are not happy, is not feasible. This means residents are particularly vulnerable.”

Nursing homes across Ireland will receive a copy of the guidelines during the coming days, and the CCPC will allow for a period of time to give nursing homes a change to make any necessary changes.

The commissioner will subsequently make an assessment of compliance in the sector at a later date.

“It is now up to each nursing home provider to review their standard form contracts of care to ensure that they are in compliance with consumer protection law,” Goggin added.

“Our guidelines will not resolve all of the issues in this sector, however, our goal in undertaking this work was to ensure that residents and their families have more certainty and clarity in what they, and the nursing home, are committing to when they sign a contract of care.”

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