We all know that care in our old age is expensive. We’ve seen, read and experienced the sometimes eye-watering charges that care homes make, but some are charging fees for a significant amount of time after a resident has died.
As part of the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) ongoing investigation into social care, the regulator has been gathering stories from people who have experienced the care sector.
It has been told by some families that they’ve been charged thousands of pounds in fees after a relative has died to cover the cost of a room until a new tenant is found.
While it’s usual practice for care homes to charge relatives of a deceased resident for a short time i.e. for sorting possessions and clearing the room, the CMA has uncovered what it calls ‘extended periods’ where people were still being charged following a death.
Hopefully, once the CMA has completed its investigation, it will step in to end any unfair practices
For now, when choosing a care home for either yourself or a loved one, it’s important to check the conditions in the contracts you sign very carefully.
A good care home contract should clearly list all of the fees that need to be paid, who is responsible for paying them, and by when. These should also be clearly broken down and itemised so that it is easy to see exactly what is being paid for.
Always ask to see a copy of the contract, and make sure that it is written in simple and clear language.
A good way to ensure everyone is on the same page is to have more than one person read it, and make sure you ask the provider to clarify in writing any clauses you don’t understand. If you’re still unsure, consider asking a solicitor.
It’s also important to remember that if a term in a contract is unfair, it won’t be valid. For example, this could include excessive cancellation fees or any hidden charges, as well as any attempts to limit your legal rights.
Your views on care
As some of you know, we recently developed a tool to help collect your stories of the social care system. These stories are to be shared with the CMA to contribute to its study.
If you’ve been stung by charges like this, or have come across any other practices in social care that you think are dodgy, then share your story with us and help us make social care fairer for all.
If you’d like to share sensitive personal experiences in the comments below, please do so using an alias, and omit anything identifiable.