12
May
2020
|
07:55
Australia/Melbourne

Bupa reaches settlement with ACCC on issues with non-clinical extra services in some aged care homes

Summary

The Federal Court today approved a settlement agreed between Bupa and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) concerning the provision of non-clinical ‘extra services’ to aged care residents in 20 of Bupa’s 72 care homes.

In 2018, an internal Bupa review of the extra services being provided to residents found that some of these hotel type services, such as gardens or rooms specifically designed to assist those living with dementia, separate external buildings for residents’ leisure activities and individually controllable heating and cooling systems, were not being provided to residents as they should have been.

Bupa voluntarily reported the issue to the ACCC and other regulators and began a remediation program for impacted residents. Since Bupa started contacting impacted residents in July 2018, around 85% of those impacted have been reimbursed with interest or are in the process of receiving final payments.

Suzanne Dvorak, Managing Director Bupa Villages and Aged Care Australia, apologised for the error and the impact on residents and their families.

“Having a family member enter aged care is often a stressful time, and we are deeply sorry for our mistake, which impacted some of our residents and their loved ones,” Ms Dvorak said.

“As soon as we discovered our error, we voluntarily reported the issue to the ACCC and other regulators, and began the work to ensure we compensated residents fairly and quickly. All of our current residents, and most former residents, who were impacted have been compensated with interest.

“We have also strengthened our internal processes and training as a result of this issue. We have since voluntarily revoked ‘extra service status’ in all of our care homes, which means we no longer charge extra for these services where we offer them,” Ms Dvorak said.

Bupa confirmed that a small number of former residents have not yet received reimbursement due to outdated contact details, however Bupa is continuing to attempt to contact next of kin as a priority.

As part of the approved settlement, Bupa admitted that its conduct breached the Australian Consumer Law. In accordance with the Federal Court’s orders, Bupa is formally required to continue with its remediation program, pay a penalty of $6 million and take other action including by implementing an Australian Consumer Law compliance program.

Anyone who believes a direct relative may have been impacted and hasn’t received a reimbursement is encouraged to contact Bupa on 1300 072 311.

Media Reference Number: 20/057