Care home briefing 134 – Assets held by care homes for residents
Many care homes and hospitals will have the property of residents for safekeeping. These items may include wedding rings, watches, medals and other jewellery. Ideally they should be clearly identified, recorded and instructions given as to how the property is to be dealt with. However, often the items are not properly identified in the safe, there is no proper log of them and they are often overlooked on the death or transfer of the resident, leading to a build up of many “orphan” items.
Many care homes will have allowed this issue to fester. The number of items can build up, and create a major problem on the transfer of the business or, in particular, if it is wound up. It was a major issue when the Southern Cross Homes were transferred to new owners, and it was identified that many Homes had, in some cases, hundreds of items and cash sums held for the residents.
All care homes and hospitals should have a system to manage such items, including:
- A log of the assets
- Clear marking and identification of physical property
- Instructions as to how the items are to be dealt with on the death of the resident (usually by obtaining information regarding the identity of the resident’s executors)
- Periodic review, including considering whether the resident’s wishes have changed
The Southern Cross position was unusual but significant. A solution had to be put in place to deal with the various orphan assets. We were able to design a strategy involving an application to the Court to obtain authority to investigate, advertise and then sell items, paying any unattributed funds into Court.
Have you checked the safe at your care home recently? It is not a problem that will go away!
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This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.