‘Til death us do part
By guest blogger BOB FERGUSON
A few days ago I stumbled across a radio programme featuring an item about a care home contract that provided for payment in lieu of “notice” on the death of a resident. The aunt of the “complainant” had been a long-term resident in the home. When she died five years ago, he declined to pay. He has since been pursued intermittently by the home which is now threatening court action. There was no mention in the programme of the resident’s property having been left in her room following her death.
The presenter spoke to one of the care home industry’s more cerebral spokespersons to give his reactions. I must say I expected to hear the voice of reason: a short sharp repudiation of this repugnant practice, followed perhaps by a pledge to root it out from among his own membership as an example to the remainder of the sector.
Instead we heard about liability extending beyond the grave and that it was a contractual relationship. Although he didn’t use the term “buyer beware”, it was implicit in much of what he said. All true, of course, but in the circumstances embarrassingly incongruous. This was no time for weasel words.
No need to leaf through the OFT guidance or reach out to our learned friends for advice, this practice – 30-day notice terms on death are now said to be the “norm” – is self-evidently unacceptable. It reeks of exploitation. In economic terms, deaths are unavoidable hazards for care homes, but they are part and parcel of the business. Where there is no furniture or effects to be cleared, owners should bite the bullet and accept them as such.
I have no idea how popular this programme is, but I’d guess the majority of its listeners would have been left with the sourest of sour tastes in their mouths. For those contemplating a care home placement, either for themselves or their nearest and dearest, it would have been much worse. Another unknown. Another worry.
The care home sector can do without such self-inflicted injuries.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.