Every Ninth Czech Retirement Home Is Unlicensed

Unlicensed assisted living facilities are thriving in the Czech Republic, offering substandard care for prices that often exceed registered homes.
Almost 100 illegal homes for seniors are trying to make money on the elderly. They operate without registration and often charge higher fees than allowed. They do not even guarantee professional care, but they cannot be shut down.

In the Czech Republic there are approximately 100 accommodation and social facilities that are not licensed. In the best-case scenario, the senior assistance in these homes is provided by trained assistants. According to experts, however, care services are more often performed by people with no expertise.

Unlicensed homes can't be closed

"By the end of 2015, the regional authorities instituted administrative proceedings in 44 cases, and 26 cases were finally closed," said Peter Sulek, a spokesman the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. He added that the ministry keeps track of 57 other entities suspected of illegal services, where the proceedings have not yet begun. "These cases not only include residential services, but there are also cases of unregistered field service," he said.

Although the situation has been criticized by Ombudsman Anna Šabatová in the past, these facilities cannot be simply closed under current legislation. Operators can only be fined for providing unauthorized social services.

And even though the maximum fine was increased two years ago from 250,000 to 1,000,000 Czech crowns (roughly 37,000 euros), this did not stop the scammers.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs promises a change by April 2017, when the amendment to the Social Services Act comes into effect.

Another million

An amendment to the Social Services Act, which should take effect from April next year, should help, according to the ministry. The maximum fine for running illegal retirement homes will increase to 2,000,000 crowns and regional authorities should also gain the competency to control such entities. At the moment, ironically, only properly registered facilities can be controlled.

According to Sulek, the amendment should also improve overall transparency and ease of the current situation. "The aim [of the new act] is to allow a senior in a residential home to remain where he or she is, even after a deterioration of health, because he is familiar with the staff and the environment."

On the other hand, according to him, the amount of reimbursement for provided care should not change. "Changing the maximum amount of reimbursement for the elderly is not planned, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs does not consider this a problem," Sulek said.

The Social Services Act currently stipulates that elderly citizens must be left with at least 15 percent of their income after paying for accommodation and food at their residential care facility.