Published: 00:01, 22 May 2017
A grieving son who says he was forced into paying for his mother's care home room weeks after she died has described the charge as "grave robbery".
Mick Carr put his mother Elsie in the Breton Court Care Home in Grange Road, St Michael’s, Tenterden, in the summer of 2014, after her dementia became so bad that he feared for her safety at home.
The 71-year-old ex-printer said: “My wife and I are both in our 70s and we were on our knees with exhaustion because mum had sundowners syndrome that led to her being awake at night.”
The dementia-related syndrome causes extreme agitation and confusion at evening time and Mick said his mum would wander around the house rifling through drawers, forcing them to listen out for her all night.
He reluctantly decided he had to find a home for Elsie and looked at Breton Court, where he was impressed with the large garden the manager showed him as, his mother had been a keen gardener.
The green space is now the subject of a planning application for an extension to the home.
Mr Carr praised Breton Court staff. “I couldn’t fault the staff at the home,” he said.
But he says he left his mum with a heavy heart, despite believing that he had found the best place for her.
“I thought I was deserting her and I sat in the car afterwards and cried and cried.”
Mick signed a form making him liable to pay for his mother’s room for 14 days after her death.
Elsie died last November at the age of 98 and Mick said the day after his mother had passed away he had cleared her room out entirely and even offered the manager Elsie’s zimmer frame because he felt might be useful for the home.
But later Mick, who lives in Kingsnorth, Ashford, was shocked to find that the company behind Breton Court, A Better Carehome Limited, had retained two weeks’ money for the room, which was charged at the rate of £3,776 per month.
The company returned £1,045 and kept £2,731, which included a 14-day notice period, something that Mick describes as “grave robbery” as he was unaware of the charge and in no state to go through the fine print of the contract when he signed it.
Mick said: “My mum worked hard all her life and her care was paid for by selling her home in Suffolk.
"She was at Breton Court for just two-and-a-half years and it cost £114,000. Charging the extra two weeks’ money is grave robbery.
"If I had known I would have stayed in the room myself for that time.”
"She was at Breton Court for just two-and-a-half years and it cost £114,000...charging the extra two weeks' money is grave robbery" - Mick Carr
Guidance from Care England says that all care home charges must be explicitly explained to families.
Mick put his case to work and pensions secretary Damian Green.
It has now come to the attention of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who told the Daily Mail he will clamp down on the practice if he is returned to his position after the election.
Breton Court was subject to an unannounced inspection by the Quality Care Commission (CQC) in March and has been judged as requiring improvement in all areas, apart from the category of caring, which is deemed good.
Gaps were identified in a range of areas, risk assessments lacked sufficient information to keep people safe, not all medicines were recorded when administered and reporting and recording of incidents affecting safety was not robust as staff lacked knowledge.
However, patients were described as being relaxed in the company of staff and as being treated with dignity and respect.
In 2014 Breton Court, which is owned by Parveen and Priya Goyal, was named top in the UK in a competition run by carehome.co.uk
Our sister paper the Kentish Express spoke to Parveen Goyal about the criticisms raised by Mick Carr and the contents of the latest CQC report but he declined to comment.
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