Skimming and scanning

Isabel's story - care home charges

Isabel talks about the charges a care home demanded after the death of her grandmother.

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Click on the image above to hear Isabel's story.


Angela Rippon: Isabel’s grandmother suffered from dementia, and three years ago, the family felt that they had no choice but to put Olive in a care home. Olive spent a happy two and a half years there, but in March 2011, she passed away. Isabel cleared Olive’s room the very next day, so she was shocked when she received a bill for her care for the two weeks after Olive had died at a cost of £1,365.

Isabel: I was livid, I couldn’t quite believe that they would do that. I looked into it and spoke to the solicitor about it and she said it’s quite common that these clauses are put into contracts, and some homes can charge up to four weeks… so it was classed as legal.

Angela Rippon: But Isabel thinks the bill is unfair because it covered not just the cost of accommodation but also all her grandmother’s care, food, drink, lighting, heating, even laundry done on the premises, services that of course in the two weeks after her death - she hadn’t used.

Isabel: I could’ve understood if they’d had charged us a percentage of the fee, to allow us time to clear the room etcetera, but not for the whole lot.

Angela Rippon: And unfortunately for Isabel, it did say in the terms and conditions that the contract would only be terminated two weeks after a death, or when the room was cleared if that was later. It’s not all that unusual for care homes to have this sort of charge, but Isabel remains angry about the charges.

Isabel: Just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it morally or ethically right. This is charging the dead really, for a service they’ve not had.

Quick tips for tutors

A short video about charges in the terms and conditions of a care home contract that Isabel only became aware of after the death of her grandmother who was a resident of the home. Isabel accepts that the charges are legal but questions whether they are ethical.

May be used in class to stimulate discussion around the featured story. Alternatively could be used to introduce the following topics:

  • Reading and understanding
  • Skimming and scanning