Three care home groups reduce ‘after death’ fees

Hallmark Care Home, The Fremantle Trust and Care UK have made voluntary changes to their care home contracts to limit the charging of fees after a resident has died.

The Fremantle Trust and Care UK has stopped allowing weekly fees to be charged for two weeks following a resident’s death, while Hallmark Care Homes Group has halted charging for 28 days after the passing of a resident.

The publication of consumer law advice to care home providers by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in November, follows CMA’s investigation into ‘after death’ fees. The new guidance led the groups to make changes to the terms of their contracts.

A spokesman for Care UK said: “We voluntarily revised our fee structure for residents funding their own care in July, which brought our process in line with new guidance issued by the CMA.

“Theses changes limited any charges relating to the period following a resident’s death to a maximum of three days, provided personal effects are collected or cleared.

“If the room is re-let within the three day period, fees are not charged from the day of re-occupation. For clarity, these are voluntary changes arising from a wide ranging review of our fee structures and transparency rather than a formal regulatory process.

“We continue to give residents and their families more transparent information than the vast majority of care home operators.

“It is now up to the CMA to ensure that its own guidance is followed in a consistent way by all providers in the sector.”

Liz Turvey, company secretary at The Fremantle Trust, said: “The Fremantle Trust has voluntarily made changes to its terms and conditions within residential contracts regarding fees charged after death and the treatment of possessions.

“We felt it was important to articulate this clearly to ensure transparency with our customers from the outset.”

Hallmark Care Homes is now charging fees for three days after a resident’s death, unless a new resident occupies the room within this period. If a longer period for collecting possessions is mutually agreed in writing, then charges could be agreed for longer.

A Hallmark Care Homes spokesperson said: “We have worked closely with the Competitions Market Authority since they began their initial care home market study in November 2017 and immediately followed their final advice that was issued on 31 May 2018.

“We will continue to review our practices in line with the CMA’s advice on consumer law in relation to care homes.”

Full details of the care group’s charges can be found on the CMA website.

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