The Federal Court has ordered that Bupa Aged Care Australia Pty Ltd (Bupa) pay $6 million in penalties for making misleading representations and wrongly accepting payments for extra services not provided or only provided in part to residents at 20 aged care homes.
The Court has also ordered Bupa by consent to compensate all affected current and past residents within 12 months. Bupa has already commenced paying compensation to affected residents and estimates that it will pay around $18.3 million in total.
From 15 April 2013 to June 2018, residents at 20 of Bupa’s aged care homes in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, paid for a package of extra services, which often amounted to thousands of dollars annually. Bupa admitted that it failed to supply some of these extra services, or only partially supplied them.
“Bupa’s failure to provide services for which it accepted payment is extremely disappointing and likely lessened the quality of life of the aged care residents in Bupa’s care,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
A total of 95 extra services were either not provided or only partially provided by Bupa, despite being included in extra services agreements between Bupa and residents. These included:
- specialised gardens or rooms specifically designed to assist those living with dementia;
- fully equipped physiotherapy rooms;
- talking book libraries, to assist people who are blind or who have visual, physical or reading disabilities;
- separate external buildings available for leisure activities;
- hot breakfasts;
- travel escorts for outside appointments; and
- individually controlled heating and cooling.
“The offer of these services may have played a part in residents and their families choosing a particular Bupa facility,” Mr Sims said.
“These vulnerable residents and their families may not have been aware that these extra services were not being provided, although they were being paid for.”
“The ACCC prioritises conduct that impacts vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers, who can be disproportionately affected by breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.”
Bupa began compensating affected residents in July 2018. Residents and their families or executors of deceased estates are encouraged to review the information about Bupa’s compensation program on Bupa’s website.
Bupa will pay compensation to thousands of residents for extra services either not delivered at all or only partly delivered, dating back to November 2011.
The ACCC commenced its investigation after Bupa self-reported the conduct.
“We took this case to court despite Bupa self-reporting to the ACCC, because Bupa’s conduct impacted substantial numbers of elderly and vulnerable consumers for a significant period of time,” Mr Sims said.
Since 2007 Bupa has operated 78 aged care facilities across Australia with over 6,700 residents. The Court’s orders relate to the following 20 aged care facilities that offered extra services to residents in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania:
- Bankstown, NSW
- Banora Point, NSW
- Berry, NSW
- Dural, NSW
- Mosman, NSW
- Queens Park, NSW
- Sutherland, NSW
- Tamworth, NSW
- Roseville, NSW
- Willoughby, NSW
- Berwick, VIC
- Bonbeach, VIC
- Caulfield, VIC
- Coburg, VIC
- Croydon, VIC
- Donvale, VIC
- Greensborough, VIC
- Glenvale, QLD
- New Farm, QLD
- South Hobart, TAS
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