There’s a widespread practice of care homes charging fees after a resident’s death. Our guest Douglas Cooper explains why the Competition and Markets Authority is keen to get your views and experiences to help inform its consultation into the practice.
Many of you will know that we undertook a review of the care home sector to see if it was working well for those who rely on it. In fact, many of you would have shared your stories and experiences of care with Which? and ultimately us at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) too.
We are currently carrying out a consumer law investigation into the fees charged by some care home providers following the death of a resident.
Action against care homes
We are already taking forward action against certain care homes who we think unfairly charge fees for extended periods after a resident’s death.
This follows our year-long market study of the residential care home market for the elderly, which found that charging fees after death is widespread across the sector and that practices vary.
For example, we found that some providers do not charge fees, or only charge for a short period after the death of a self-funded resident, whilst others charge fees for up to a month.
Our investigation has already resulted in a major care home provider, Maria Mallaband Care Group, deciding to stop using a contract term requiring the payment of one month’s fees following the death of a resident who paid for their own care.
What do care homes need to do?
Now, in order to ensure that all care homes take a consistent and lawful approach to the charging of fees after death, we are consulting on advice for the sector as a whole, setting out what we think care homes need to do to comply with their obligations under consumer law.
This includes our views on whether it’s fair to charge fees after death and, if so, for how long.
Dealing with the death of a close relative or friend can be a difficult time emotionally. As part of our consultation, we are particularly keen to hear from relatives, or representatives, of elderly residents who have passed away while in a care or nursing home.
Tell us your views
If this is something you have experienced, we’d be really grateful if you would help us with our work by completing this short questionnaire – it will help to inform our final advice to care homes. The consultation closes on 16 February.
This is a guest contribution by Douglas Cooper of the CMA. All views expressed here are the CMA’s and not necessarily those shared by Which?.
What’s your experience of the care home sector? Have you had to deal with paying fees after the death of a loved one – and did you think they were fair?
If you’d like to share sensitive personal experiences in the comments below, please remember you can choose to do so using an alias and omit anything identifiable.