Bupa reimburses aged care residents for extra services

Bupa confirmed today it has reimbursed aged care residents and proactively engaged with regulators, including the ACCC, after a 2018 internal review found residents in a limited number of its care homes were not receiving Extra Services as intended.

Extra Services are not clinical care or health services but rather additional ‘hotel type’ services, that involve a higher standard of accommodation and hospitality services (i.e. personal massage or entertainment options).

The review of the care homes where Extra Services were available found that while most were available at the time of the review, some Extra Services were not available as intended at that time.

As a result, in July 2018 Bupa commenced a remediation program and began contacting affected residents (or their families) that had been paying for Extra Services at an impacted home to personally apologise and to explain the actions that would be taken to compensate them.

Bupa has reimbursed fees paid during their stay for Extra Services not available as intended at the time of our review, with interest.

Jan Adams, Bupa’s Managing Director of Aged Care, said

“We apologise unreservedly to those residents and families who have been affected, and we have reimbursed all current residents impacted with interest.

“We are committed to addressing this to put things right. Those who may have been affected have been contacted directly by Bupa. To date, we have repaid approximately 550 residents.

“We notified our regulators including the ACCC as soon as we became aware of this issue and have worked throughout to communicate openly to all involved.

“We have made significant changes to our systems to ensure this does not happen again. We also engaged independent external advisers in the development of the repayment program to ensure a fair and equitable approach.

When Bupa uncovered this issue, they notified appropriate regulators including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (formerly the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner). Bupa engaged with the ACCC in respect of the scope and timing of their approach to communicating with and reimbursing residents who may have been affected and kept them updated about the remediation program which was designed with external assistance.

The ACCC has now raised some concerns regarding the extent to which Extra Services were available to affected residents during the period 1 January 2011 to June 2018, commencing proceedings in the Federal Court seeking a range of relief from Bupa including financial penalties.

Bupa continues to offer Extra Services in New Zealand but no longer offers them in its aged care homes in Australia.

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