Bupa has been landed with a A$6m fine for failing to provide services to care home residents in Australia.
A Federal Court said that non-clinical ‘extra services’ to aged care residents in 20 of Bupa’s 72 care homes in Australia was not delivered as expected.
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 A$18.3m in total.
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 programme 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 of Bupa Villages and Aged Care Australia, apologised for the error and the impact on residents and their families.
She said: “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.
“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.”
A spokesman for Bupa confirmed that a “small” number of former residents have not yet received reimbursement due to “outdated contact details” but it said it is continuing to attempt to contact next of kin as a priority.