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Care homes and after death fees

View profile for Tim Field
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Following the publication of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) review in to care homes, is it time, as a care home provider, to check your terms and conditions, or as a resident to ensure you know what you are signed up to?

The CMA has undertaken an in depth review of care homes and how their practices and methods align with consumer law, most notably the Consumer Rights Act 2015. One issue that can cause conflicts between the interests of the care home and consumer law relates to how long the resident’s estate should continue to pay fees whilst their room is cleared.

There can be various ways of determining for how long the deceased resident’s estate should continue to pay fees. It may be for a fixed period, or until such time as the resident’s possessions have been removed from the room in question. Whichever option the care home settles upon, the term will still need to be fair and reasonable.

A fixed period, in the eyes of the CMA, should be for no more than three days starting with the day after the death of the resident. This, in the opinion of the CMA, should strike the right balance between the needs of the care home and the resident. 

An open ended clause providing that fees shall be due until such time as the room is cleared will likely be considered unfair unless a longstop date is provided, with a suggestion of 10 days following the death of a resident. This acknowledges the fact that the care home has a duty to mitigate its loss even if the room has not been cleared.

There are of course likely to be specific circumstances that require an alternate approach and the CMA only provides guidance. However, if a challenge were to be made in respect of after death fees the guidance is likely to be considered and influence any decision.

The above only touches upon a small part of the CMA guidance and therefore it may well be that an entire review of your terms and conditions is due? In which case, contact our specialist lawyers who would be pleased to discuss your requirements with you. I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217366 or tim.field@birkettlong.co.uk.

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