Officials have apologised after sending a man a letter offering condolences on the death of his mum and asking him to settle her care home bill – despite the fact she is still alive and living there.
Terry King, whose 87-year-old mother Iris is a resident at the Glenkindie Lodge care home in Desborough, received the shock letter from Northamptonshire County Council’s exchequer services two weeks ago.
It said officials were sorry to hear of Mrs King’s death – but also told her son the authority had a claim against her estate for £2,116.
Council officials told Mr King he would receive the final invoice for nearly £150 shortly.
Mr King, who now lives in Northampton but whose family, including his mother, is originally from Desborough, said he was shocked to receive the letter and had to check with the home immediately to check whether the information was true.
He said he had only just visited his mother, so thought there must have been a mistake – but added he could never be sure when something so serious came from an official source.
He also said he would have expected the home itself to let him and his family know.
Mrs King, whose husband Norman died last year, suffers from vascular dementia.
She moved into the Glenkindie Lodge care home in September last year.
Mr King said: “We were there on the Wednesday, so we knew she was still alive.”
The letter from the county council was dated the day before his visit. But he explained it was difficult to think logically when receiving such a letter.
Speaking to the Telegraph, he and his sister Marilyn said both the initial correspondence from the county council and the subsequent apology had left a bad taste in the mouth.
Mr Kind added: “I spoke to these people and didn’t get much satisfaction.”
The apology letter from the council said: “Please accept our sincere apologies for issuing the letter sent to you on 21st May 2013 referring to Mrs King as ‘deceased’.
“Unfortunately we acted on incorrect information supplied by another department.
“Once again we are sorry for any distress this may have caused.”
Mr King has dismissed the apology as half-hearted. He added: “It’s a catalogue of errors. It’s been hassle after hassle after hassle with these people for two years. This has tipped us over the edge.”
And Mr King said referring to his mother as deceased had not been the only mistake made by council officials.
They have also charged the family for transport costs – even though Mr King said his mum had never made use of transport while living at the home.
A county council spokesman has subsequently issued another apology for the mistake and added that lessons would be learned.
He added: “We are very sorry for this mistake which happened because we received correspondence returned in the post stating that Mrs King had passed away and so we acted on this information.
“We have since amended our records to ensure we have the correct information and have sent a letter to apologise.
“As a result of this incident, we have also reviewed the process staff follow to verify the death of a client and ensure records are correct before issuing a letter to a next of kin.”