Care providers enter into different kinds of agreement with their service users, each depending on how the user’s care is funded:

  • in full or part by the local authority and/or other third-party sources (including “top-ups”)

  • through their own means without local authority intervention (ie private care/self-funding) with/without contributions from third party “top-ups”.

  • from their being in receipt of a direct payment or personal budget from their local authority (or in future) NHS.

Each service user receiving a care service should have a contract or a statement of terms and conditions with their provider. Service providers:

  • must operate within the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and related regulations

  • must comply with Regulation 19: Fees of the Care Quality Commission (Registration) Regulations 2009

  • should follow the 2018 guidance on how to comply with consumer law published by the Competition and Marketing Authority (CMA), which is directed at care homes for older people but has implications for all service providers.

The difference between a contract and a statement of terms and conditions lies in who is paying for the person’s care. A self-funding service user has a contract; someone whose fees are paid for by a local authority has a statement of terms and conditions. For all practical purposes, a statement of terms and conditions should be regarded as having the same force as a contract.

Care providers should make clear to prospective and new service users that they must comply with the coronavirus regulations and guidance, which might affect the services that they can provide, or would otherwise be providing in normal circumstances. Service users must likewise agree to any restrictions that they must observe during this period, such as on visiting, periods of self-isolation, testing, and mask wearing.

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