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Growing disquiet over care homes' hidden clauses

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Families are being urged to ensure they check the small print of care home contracts amid concerns that many are being caught out by punitive clauses.

Earlier this month, papers reported on the case of Mick Carr, whose elderly mother Elsie was admitted to a residential care home in Kent.

The 70-year-old had taken the difficult decision to admit his mother, who was living with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, after it became impossible for him to continue to care for her at home.

What he did not notice were the conditions attached to the care home’s fees, including a requirement for the family to “give notice” of Elsie’s death.

When the pensioner had passed away last November, Mr Carr and his sister had begun to make arrangements for the funeral.

He had contacted the home asking for the return of a £3,000 deposit, hoping this would cover the bulk of the costs for the service.

He was shocked to discover that the sum would not be returned as Elsie would be charged for a two-week notice period following her death.

“To me it is grave robbery,” Mr Carr told the Daily Mail. “I could understand paying for one or two extra days but not 14. It’s just terrible. You are grieving, then you are hit with this financial blow.

“The day I put her in there I didn’t go through the small print. If I’d read that clause, I would have asked for it to be deleted or we would have left.”

The controversial clauses have become increasingly common, with cases reported of homes requiring fees to be paid for a full four weeks after a resident has passed away.

Care England has suggested that homes are not to blame for the use of these conditions, arguing that the crisis in social care has left many struggling to make ends meet.

Despite this the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is continuing to carry out an investigation amid concerns about financial practices within the industry.