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