The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has welcomed Maria Mallaband Care Group’s decision 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.
The move comes as part of an ongoing consumer law investigation by the CMA into fees charged by a number of care home providers, and its year-long study of the residential care home market where the CMA made clear its concerns that it is unfair to continue to charge fees for an extended period after a resident has died.
Maria Mallaband, together with its sister company, Countrywide Care Homes, operates 64 residential care homes in England and Northern Ireland. In response to intervention by the CMA, the group has agreed to amend its contract terms at these and any future care homes it operates so that fees will only be charged up to the date of death.
As part of its work, the CMA found that charging fees after death was widespread across the sector and that practices vary. In order to ensure that care homes take a consistent and lawful approach, the CMA will be publishing compliance advice for the sector as a whole. It has launched a public consultation seeking views on its draft advice, so it can reach a final view on whether it’s fair to charge fees after death and, if so, for how long.
Michael Grenfell, executive director for enforcement at the CMA, said: “It is important that care home residents, and their families, can be confident they will be fairly treated, especially during the difficult period after a family member has died.
“We are pleased that the Maria Mallaband Care Group has been responsive to our concerns about fees charged after death, and has taken clear and positive steps to make changes ahead of our public consultation on such fees. We expect other care homes to make any necessary changes in line with our final views when published.
“We now want to hear from families and care homes as part of our consultation.”