Wellington, November 9, 2017
Major rest home provider Bupa Care Services has been ordered to pay $10,000 by the Disputes Tribunal after failing to deliver reasonable standards of care to a 92-year-old woman who resided at its St Kilda Care Home in Cambridge.
Consumer NZ member Robert Love brought the case against Bupa due to failings in care provided to his mother, Freda Love.
Consumer NZ backed Mr Love’s decision to take Bupa to the Tribunal.
This is a case where the rest home, by its own admission, had failed on more than one occasion to deliver services a reasonable consumer would expect.
Mr Love tried to raise the problems with government agencies responsible for rest home care. But, to date, Bupa has not faced any sanction.
Freda Love was a resident at St Kilda Care Home in 2016. Mr Love paid extra for a premium room for his mother, who required hospital-level care. However, services were not provided to the standard promised.
On one visit to the home, Mr Love arrived to find his mother shivering under a thin blanket in a urine-soaked bed. Her room was cold, the window wide open and the call bell out of her reach.
The premium room staffing ratio of one caregiver for every 10 residents meant Mrs Love sometimes had to wait hours for assistance.
The Tribunal found Bupa misled Mr Love about its ability to provide the level of care his mother required. It also found Bupa breached its obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act to provide services with reasonable care and skill, and breached the terms of its contract with Mr Love.
In its decision, the Tribunal ordered Bupa to refund Mr Love the $8100 he had paid for his mother’s premium room, and compensate him for travel and other expenses he had incurred as a result of efforts to remedy shortfalls in the care provided to his mother.
Consumer NZ has called for an independent inquiry into rest home care.
Rest homes receive significant public funding. When they fail to deliver services to required standards, they need to be accountable. A complaints process that’s responsive to consumer concerns also needs to be a priority.
Freda Love died in Waikato Hospital in February 2017.
Sue Chetwin is Chief Executive of Consumer New Zealand based in Wellington.