‘I paid £2,000 for my dead mum’s care’

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - FRONT PAGE -

Most care homes charge fam­i­lies af­ter a res­i­dent’s death. But how much – and how fair – are these fees, asks Sam Meadows

Griev­ing fam­i­lies whose loved ones die in a care home are be­ing charged af­ter-death fees, of­ten to­talling sev­eral thou­sands of pounds.

The charges, which are ubiq­ui­tous across the in­dus­try, are os­ten­si­bly to cover lost in­come while rooms are cleared out and cleaned be­fore another res­i­dent can move in.

But the prac­tice is cur­rently un­der scru­tiny by the Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity amid fears some providers could be “dou­ble charg­ing” for rooms that are oc­cu­pied again soon af­ter the for­mer res­i­dent’s death. The watch­dog has sug­gested a cap on charges of three days. The cur­rent in­dus­try stan­dard is two weeks, with some charg­ing for as long as a month.

Sev­eral Tele­graph Money read­ers have come for­ward to doc­u­ment the nu­mer­ous ways in which their care homes have charged them when their par­ents or loved ones died.

Anne Edser, 63, was handed a large bill fol­low­ing her mother Eve­lyn’s death in a nurs­ing home. She had been a res­i­dent at Lent Rise House in Burn­ham, Buck­ing­hamshire, for four years be­fore she died in the sum­mer of 2016 at the age of 87.

Mrs Edser was aware of the twoweek “af­ter-death h fee fee”, , which was in­cluded in her con­tract, but was shocked to dis­cover how much she would be charged.

Her mother had ad been pay­ing £780 a week eek while a res­i­dent, but the “two-week” bill was for more than £2,000 0 and in­cluded an ad­di­tional levy for nurs­ing care, pre­vi­ously paid by the NHS un­der its con­tin­u­ing care plan. It also in­cluded a small gov­ern­ment-funded at­ten­dance al­lowance her mother had been re­ceiv­ing.

“You’re pay­ing £2,000 just to be able to go in and clear the room,” she said. “How can they charge for funded nurs­ing care when, putting it bluntly, there is no­body there to nurse? It’s scan­dalous.”

Mrs Edser, who lives near Bea­cons­field, said she wel­comed the CMA’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but noted that while the re­port did men­tion funded nurs­ing care, it omit­ted com­ment on the at­ten­dance al­lowance.

She said: “I hope this [the CMA in­ves­ti­ga­tion] is the start of a shake-up, be­cause it is badly needed. It’s go­ing to be too late for us but I re­ally feel very strongly that some­thing needs to be done. It’s grossly un­fair.

“It ap­pears the care homes are

TELL US YOUR STORY

Have you been sub­ject to steep care fee in­creases or un­fair charges? Let us know by send­ing an email to sam. meadows@ tele­graph.co.uk

try­ing to profit from their res­i­dents even af­ter they are dead.” Lent Rise House, which this week was deemed “in­ad­e­quate” by the Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion (CQC), is run by the Fre­man­tle Trust. A spokesman said the trust was a ac­tively en­gag­ing with the CQC and had im­me­di­ately ap­pointed a “turn­around tur spe­cial­ist” to ad ad­dress the con­cerns raised raised. Steve Flanag Flana­gan, the trust’s chief ex­e­cuti ex­ec­u­tive, said: “Un­like many of our compe com­peti­tors, as a char­ity the Fr Fre­man­tle Trust chos chose not to charge add ad­di­tional fees upf up­front along with he hefty exit charges u upon va­ca­tion of a room. “In­stead, and clearly stated in ou our con­tract, we wer were charg­ing a fee for the time the room was in the process of be­ing cleared and there­fore could not be utilised. This fee was the equiv­a­lent of our stan­dard rate.

“Fol­low­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the mar­ket as a re­sult of the CMA in­ves­ti­ga­tion, we have sus­pended this and have pro­posed a £50 per day charge for the days we can­not utilise the room.

“This will be re­viewed once the CMA po­si­tion is made clear on all charges.”

Another Tele­graph Money reader, who pre­ferred to re­main anony­mous, was charged £2,500 by Bupa af­ter her 86-year-old fa­ther died in March last year at a nurs­ing home in Ash­ford, Kent. The reader was charged for a full 14 days de­spite clear­ing out her fa­ther’s room within two, which she felt was un­fair.

She said: “I feel a three-day charge post-death al­lows for the room to be cleared and the room to be deep cleaned for next res­i­dent. If a relative doesn’t clear the room in that time then it would be fair to charge un­til it is, or for a max­i­mum of 14 days.

“When you find a de­men­tia home that will take your relative it is usu­ally as a re­sult of ei­ther a cri­sis or se­vere de­cline and it is a very emo­tional pe­riod so you don’t feel you have any other choice other than to have to ac­cept the no­tice pe­riod.”

Joan El­liott, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Bupa Care Homes, said: “We reg­u­larly re­view our terms and will con­tinue to do so in light of this re­cent ad­vice from the CMA.

“Our stan­dard ap­proach is 14 days for long-term res­i­dents and three days for short-term res­i­dents, as this al­lows fam­i­lies the flex­i­bil­ity as to when to col­lect their relative’s be­long­ings.”

Both read­ers also ex­pressed their frus­tra­tion that res­i­dents funded by lo­cal author­i­ties were not charged af­ter death in the same way.

Costs for these res­i­dents are usu­ally capped at three days.

Anne Edser paid over £2,000 af­ter her mother died

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