Bupa ordered to pay millions to elderly residents for services paid for but never received

RIP OFF: Bupa Tamworth is one of 20 homes in Australia ordered to pay back elderly residents for services they never received. Photo: Peter Hardin
RIP OFF: Bupa Tamworth is one of 20 homes in Australia ordered to pay back elderly residents for services they never received. Photo: Peter Hardin

Elderly residents of Bupa Aged Care have been awarded a share of $18 million in refunds for services they paid for and did not receive.

At least 60 former and current residents in Tamworth are among those who paid for special meals, physiotherapy and even air-conditioning but were left empty-handed.

A total of 95 extras were either not provided or only part-provided, like specialised rooms for those with dementia; talking books for blind or disabled people; hot breakfasts; and someone to accompany residents to outside appointments.

The Federal Court ruled Bupa must pay back the money in the next 12 months and ordered it to pay another $6 million in penalties.

Bupa was first taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in April 2019. ACCC chair Rod Sims said the failure is extremely disappointing.

"The offer of these services may have played a part in residents and their families choosing a particular Bupa facility," he 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."

A Bupa spokeswoman said 49 locals had been compensated and others were being contacted.

"We have apologised to our residents and their loved ones who were impacted by this, and are deeply sorry that we didn't provide the level of care they expect and deserve," she said.

It's not the first time Bupa Tamworth has come to the attention of authorities. It failed 39 of 42 standards in its November audit, including wound and clinical care, bowel and behaviour management.

"In November 2019, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission identified a number of concerns at our Tamworth care home and imposed sanctions," the Bupa spokeswoman said.

"We immediately started to address these issues by hiring more nurses, increasing training and providing greater clinical oversight."

After a recent audit the home has been accredited until June 2021.