Sage has made a submission to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s public consultation on contracts of care in long-term residential care services for older people. The purpose of the consultation is to gather the views of older people, their families, representatives and service providers which will inform the CCPC’s work in developing a set of guidelines for service providers.
In our submission Sage outlines the difficulties with contracts of care arising from the experience of Sage in working with vulnerable adults and older people living in residential care settings and those about to enter such settings:
- Language in contracts is legal and technical and is difficult to comprehend – there is a clear need for Plain English versions as well as audio versions
- No capacity assessment carried out with the person prior to someone signing the contract of care on their behalf
- Contracts signed by relatives rather than by the person moving into long-term care when the person has decision-making capacity
- Inadequate time to consider a contract in detail and to get appropriate legal advice because of pressure to take up the nursing home place on offer and/or lack of access to independent legal advice
- Additional charges which are not specified in contracts being implemented without any consultation with residents and without regard for their ability to pay
- No provision for engaging with people who have reduced decision-making capacity as a result of dementia or other cognitive impairment
- A ‘one-size fits all’ approach in the way contracts are formulated with little or no reference to quality of life, choice and person-centred planning
Sage identifies some measures that should be taken to address these issues, and puts forward suggestions for what provisions should and should not be contained in a contract of care. We have developed an indicative list of FAQs that service providers could use to make a contract easier to understand.