Only A Fifth Of Adults In The North East Would Consult A Lawyer
Only a fifth of adults in the North East would consult a lawyer before signing a care home contract, according to a new survey.
The YouGov research, commissioned by leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell, highlighted a striking North East/North West divide on attitudes to care issues in later life. While North East polled the lowest of any UK region on approaching a lawyer for advice on a care home contract on 21%; the North West by contrast polled top on 35%, a full 5% above the national average.
The North East’s reputation for strong friends and family links is intact, with 52% saying it was here they would seek contract advice from; while 37% would search online for advice – both figures the highest of any UK region. Only Londoners shared the same love of online searching.
The poll comes as public and political attitudes to funding care in later life come under the spotlight. A government green paper on social care due in 2017 continues to be delayed; while investigations have revealed care homes not providing contracts, or failing to inform residents of important terms and conditions.
Expert Opinion“The fact four-fifths of adults in the North East would go anywhere but consult a lawyer for advice on such a key issue as a care home contract is a huge cause for concern.
“With so few intending to seek professional legal advice, the North East could be at greater risk than the North West when it comes to signing such contracts. With a national average of 30%, we all seem willing to take risks planning our future care.
“Without expert advice, vulnerable people and their families risk being caught out by unreasonably high bills or tied to unfair terms and conditions they would never knowingly have agreed to.”
Sarah Wintle - Associate Solicitor
A Which? report suggested stress linked to unfair contract terms had led to a loved one’s death or made the last years of others a misery, with some contracts reported to include charging for a month after death and giving providers rights to terminate a contract with 24 hours’ notice for undefined ‘detrimental’ behaviour.
Expert Opinion“The long awaited green paper may address some of these issues, but while it remains in the political long grass, people will have to take responsibility for their own care provision. While the survey shows a majority will consult widely for advice, friends and family will not have the expertise needed for the care home contract conundrum.
“People may think they are saving money by not seeking professional advice but if you end up paying more in fees than you should, trapped in unreasonable terms and conditions, it’s a false economy. More importantly it risks misery, unnecessary stress in old age and having fewer assets to pass on to our children.” Sarah Wintle - Associate Solicitor