Care home orders grieving daughter to pay £3,000¿ because she didn't give 28 days' notice of her father's DEATH
- Sue Cann received the bill for the outstanding care bill the day after her father Kenneth's funeral
By Charles Walford
Last updated at 3:18 PM on 21st February 2012
A grieving daughter was landed with a £3,000 nursing home bill for her late father - because she failed to give them a month’s notice of his death.
Sue Cann was ‘shocked’ when she received a letter from the care home the day after her father Kenneth's funeral drawing her attention to the small print in the contract for his care.
It stated that the the private home required four weeks' warning of his passing away, and as a result she owed £3,052.16.
Miss Cann, 54, said it was ‘ridiculous’ people needed to give prior notice of when they were going to die and hit out at the ‘callous’ conduct of the Highcliffe Nursing Home in Highcliffe, Dorset, which is run by Kingsley Healthcare.
'Insensitive': Following the death of her father Kenneth (left), Sue Cann (right) was 'shocked' to receive a £3,000 bill because she had failed to give a nursing home a month's notice of his death
The Highcliffe Nursing Home sent a letter asking for payment, that Ms Cann received the day after her father's funeral
In a letter sent to her a day after her 79 year-old father’s funeral, they stated: 'A notice period of four weeks (28 days) is required in event of a resident moving out or passing away.'
Miss Cann said: 'When the letter came I was so shocked about it.
'According to the letter my father had to give 28 days’ notice for moving or passing away. But how on earth can you do that? Nobody knows when they are going to die. It’s ridiculous.
'In effect they are saying that you have to pay 28 days after you have passed away. I think that is really so callous.
'When you have died and can’t give notice of your death that’s taking advantage and it’s daylight robbery.'
As he died died on January 30, and the bill had been paid up to January 31, they were demanding 27 days' pay.
Miss Cann said she understands the extra fee is to cover the period from her father dying to the home getting a new tenant in.
She said: 'I wouldn’t mind paying for a week but I really object to a whole month.
'To pay for a month which covers his food, laundry and nursing care it is daylight robbery.
'His belongings were removed from the home on the evening of his death as far as I’m aware. He shared a room so it was clean for the other occupant.'
Mr Cann, who spent 42 years working as a service manager for British Gas, had lived with wife, Winnie, but she passed away last March from ovarian cancer, at the age of 74.
He was admitted to the seaside nursing home, run by Suffolk-based Kingsley Healthcare, 17 months ago after a long battle with dementia.
The letter from Kingsley Healthcare informing Sue Cann of the 28-notice period required 'in the event of a resident passing away'
Mr Cann, who paid taxes all his working life and saved for his retirement, ended up spending £63,000 on his care for the short time he was there.
Miss Cann, a mobile canine beautician from Christchurch, said: 'He worked very hard and he saved as much money as he could for his retirement.
'Then he developed dementia and most of his money had to be spent on his nursing home fees. It’s terribly sad.
'My mother signed the contract before she died and I don’t know if she was aware of this 28-day clause herself. I was not aware of this until last week.
'Often you sign things and you don't check the very small print. We were more concerned at the time that dad had a place to go.
'He seemed happy there. He was well looked after and I have no complaints at all of their care, it’s the issue of the overall owner and the demand for the money.
'It leaves a nasty taste in your mouth.'
Demand: The bill showing the outstanding amount for 27 days of February
She added: 'And to receive the letter the day after his funeral was insensitive. I understand that the nursing home would not necessarily know when his funeral was, although the home sent flowers for his coffin because I informed them. But the letter came from head office.'
Miss Cann said she felt she had no choice but to pay the bill.
Sheila Scott, chief executive of the National Care Association, said Kingsley Healthcare’s policy was not standard practice.
She said: 'Contracts for residents will say that they need to give a month’s notice if they are going to leave the home. That is fair and reasonable.
'However, when somebody dies it is a completely different matter. I would expect a week to 10 days. Time to clear the room, that’s what the extra days should be for.
'I don’t think it’s malicious, but it’s insensitive.
'I think some clear guidance for care homes would be helpful as this lady has been so upset and clearly the way it was handled with her was quite insensitive when the letter came quite early.'
A spokesman for Kingsley Healthcare today said that they were changing their notice period for death from 28 days to seven days, which is in line with most other care homes.
Ian Jarvis, finance director for Kingsley, said: 'We have now reviewed our administrative procedures, including the provision of notices relating to termination following death.
'We have decided to reduce the notice period on death to seven days with immediate effect.
'We do not wish to comment any further on the specific circumstances which brought this matter to our attention as this would be a breach of confidentiality.'