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Tarry's Residential Home Limited (17 014 301)

Category : Adult care services > Residential care

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 26 Mar 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: the Ombudsman considers there is no fault by the care provider in charging for a notice period after Mrs X left a care home. However, the provider miscalculated the refund by two days and it will refund this to Mrs X.

The complaint

  1. The complainant whom I shall refer to as Mr X, complained on behalf of his aunt Mrs X, that a residential care home failed to fully refund overpaid fees. He says the home owes her over £4000.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about adult social care providers. If there has been fault, we consider whether it has caused an injustice and, if it has, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 34H(3) and (4), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with a care provider’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have
    • considered the complaint and the copy correspondence provided by the complainant;
    • made enquiries of the care provider and considered its comments and documents;
    • discussed the complaint with the complainant’s representative; and
    • invited his comments on my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs X was living in a care home and paid the fees directly herself. In 2017 her nephew, Mr X helped her move out because she was distressed by the actions of other residents. She did not give any notice. Mr X said staff at the home told when leaving that they should give 4 weeks’ notice.
  2. Mr X asked the care provider for a refund of the fees as Mrs X had overpaid. He said that it owed her £8100. He also said the home had given him conflicting information about how the charges were calculated.
  3. The care provider sent Mrs X a refund for £3405. It said that Mrs X was required to give 4 weeks’ notice when leaving the home. It had charged this in lieu of notice.
  4. Mr X complained to the care provider and said he calculated that it still owed Mrs X at least £4695. He asked for a proper breakdown of the calculation because it had given conflicting information. He said Mrs X had not received a contract.
  5. In response to the Ombudsman’s enquiries the care provider said it had given Mr X the contract for Mrs X to sign before she moved in. However, it said he had not returned it despite the care manager calling to remind him. Mr X says he did not receive the contract and if he had he would have ensured it was signed and returned.
  6. The care provider does not have a record of the calls it says it made to chase up the return of the contract. It says it has revised its procedures to ensure that the contract is signed before the resident moves in or on the day they move in.
  7. I have considered whether there was fault by the care provider and whether it caused Mrs X injustice. There was no signed contract, and the provider should have insisted it was signed. This could be considered fault. However, the provider’s terms and conditions state that after an initial 4 week period as a resident, the resident must give 4 weeks notice if they intend to vacate. Notice periods are standard conditions in care home contracts. I consider that after the 4 week initial period Mrs X had accepted the terms and conditions as the home was providing and she was paying for the services even though she had not signed the contract. It could be said there was an implied contract on that basis and that Mrs X was liable to pay the notice period. I do not see that even if I found there was fault by the provider that this caused injustice to Mrs X.
  8. In its response to the Ombudsman’s enquiries the care provider set out the details of the refund it had given Mrs X. This included the charge in lieu of the 4 week notice period as detailed above. However, I considered calculation was not correct because the provider charged for 30 days after Mrs X left instead of the 28 day notice period. The care provider has apologised and agreed to refund the charge for two days as soon as possible.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation and closed the complaint because I find there is no fault by the care provider regarding the notice period charge.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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