Notice Periods and Contracts

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Charlie, Dec 4, 2006.

  1. Charlie

    Charlie Registered User

    Apr 1, 2003
    161
    Hi All,

    I am going through the process of sorting out a nursing home.
    We are just about to register with one but have been through the 'contract' and are a little suprised.

    Firstly, the trial period. What is the law on this or is it different for every home. We have been offered a 6 week trial in which we can give four weeks notice at any point? Totally confussed about this as we can give four weeks notice at any point. Will ask them more about this but wondered if anyone knew the law stance.

    Secondly, we must give four weeks notice of termination under any circumstance. Is this standard or just blooming mean. At £980 a week four weeks notice will add up if mum needs to go in hospital for example. Again, what is the law or common practice on this.

    Also, are there any other issues that we should check on the contract that may cause missunderstanding at a later date.

    thanks
    Charlie...
     
  2. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Normally, I think a trial period allows termiantion by either side with a much shorter period than 4 weeks. I have seen terms that have the termination period anywhere from 48 hours up to 7 days. I really feel that 4 weeks is way too long, and frankly, make a mockery of the concept of trial period.

    As to the 4 weeks notice - that seems to conform to the Office of Fair Trading's stance on this. Incidentally, if the resident had to go into hospital, it is normal to continue to pay for the nursing home unless you have no expectation that the resident would return. However, a decent contract would at least allow some reduction for services that were no longer being provided (laundry, food etc). Also, OFT's position appear to be that in the event of termination for any reason (e.g. change of mind, or death) while 4 weeks is a reasonable period, there should be some facility for repayment of fees in the event the room is "relet" to another person within that period.

    For a little light reading have a look at the pamphlet Guidance on unfair terms in care home contracts (link below). Also, I would suggest taking the contract to your local CAB before you sign it.

    http://www.oft.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/81AC1BDF-2AF5-4936-8755-BFE284B8BFC9/0/oft635.pdf
     
  3. Charlie

    Charlie Registered User

    Apr 1, 2003
    161
    Fantastic, thanks for this really useful information Jennifer.

    Bad news is that the contract breaks a lot of rules outlined in the PDF. Super bad news is that they WILL NOT modify the contract in any way, particulary the notice period which is 6 weeks in writing apparently. Four weeks charge if mum needs to leave for any reason. No insurance or responsibility for any of her own items in the home and they have the right to move mum if they cannot cope.

    What to do, you find a great home, cost you and arm in a leg £980/week, and then they give you a contract to sign full of unreasonable clauses. You do what everyone does, sign it as you can't face starting the search again just over a contract.

    But thanks Jennifer. I will take the contract to the CAB, but for now I'm stuffed. At least I'm aware that we are signing something unfair and I will make my dissatisfaction known to the home.

    thanks
    Charlie...
     
  4. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Is this a home run by a group? There was a whole list of homes that had agreed to change the contracts that they had, but I suspect some might slip through. According to OFT the companies were

    1. The OFT has received undertakings from: Brunelcare, Four Seasons Health Care Ltd, BUPA, Elizabeth Finn Trust, Orchard Manor Private Nursing Home, Professional Health Care, Sanderbrand Ltd (company now run as Orchard Lodge Nursing Home) Southern Cross Healthcare Ltd, St Nicholas Healthcare Ltd and Westminster Health Care (UK) Ltd

    Having said that, though, they do have you over a barrel. However, if you receive advice from a solicitor that this contract has unfair clauses in it, and you subsequently decide to challenge it, perhaps after your mother is no longer in the home, even though you signed the contract, if it's not legally enforcesable, it's not legally enforceable. They'd have to take you to court and the chances are they'd lose. That's a risky course of action though. You might also want to contact http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/ before you sign, although they don't have anything specific about care homes on their site that I can find.

    Jennifer
     
  5. Charlie

    Charlie Registered User

    Apr 1, 2003
    161
    Hi Jennifer, It's South London Nursing Homes Limited, not in the list unfortunately. The six week notice period is bugging me most to be honest as we may decide to move and I think it is unreasonable.

    I'll contact consumer direct and the CAB and see what they say. Thanks - it really is a nasty dense jungle when you could do without a little light.
     
  6. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Being a somewhat agressive person when it comes to legal matters (it must come from living with a lawyer!) I would be inclined (PERSONALLY and in BIG LETTERS) to sign the d**n contract, and if you decide to move her later on, move her and tell them to take me to court for the remaining fees. They can hardly hold her hostage. Although, are you having to pay an upfront fee? In that case, I'd do the same thing, but take THEM to court to recover the money. But that's just me - other people have different tolerance levels for this sort of thing.

    Jennifer
     
  7. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    9,519
    Frinton-on-Sea
    Hi Charlie, had to give similar undertaking to the owners of Lionel care home.

    However I signed the original papers when he first went in for respite with them, last september, so this time (now he is permanent) the contract still stands.

    I thought his fees were bad enough at £700 per week, but yours are even higher.
    I close my mind to the future possibilities, as it is all I can do to ensure Lionel is as comfortable and happy as I can make him for now - tomorrow is another day.

    Regards,
     
  8. noelphobic

    noelphobic Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    3,452
    Liverpool
    I would have to warn people that just because you have signed a contract and stick to the terms of it, you can't assume that the home will also abide by it! My mum was in an EMI care home for 12 months until she broke her hip. 2 days after she was operated on and was still recuperating we were asked to collect her possessions as the home had decided it could no longer meet her needs. Her contract stated that her room would be kept for at least 4 weeks if she had to go into hospital (it could have been more) and that, if it was decided she needed to be moved, then we would be offered help in finding alternative care for her. None of the above happened!
     

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