Australia: Aged care centre operator accused of charging residents the same day they were forced to leave - PressFrom - Australia

AustraliaAged care centre operator accused of charging residents the same day they were forced to leave

18:33  12 july  2019
18:33  12 july  2019 Source:

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That left it up to aged care residents , some of whom are highly vulnerable, to realise they were being wrongly charged . The fee is calculated by the government but imposed on the resident through a convoluted and confusing reconciliation process involving the company that owns the aged care facility.

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Aged care centre operator accused of charging residents the same day they were forced to leave© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation A monthly charge for Earle Haven was taken from Lorraine Cook's bank account on Thursday night, as the centre was closing down. (ABC News: Steven Keen)

The operator of an aged care centre that closed on Thursday afternoon extracted a monthly charge from the bank accounts of at least two residents on the same day they were made homeless, family members have told the ABC.

A contract dispute between the owners of Earle Haven Retirement Village at Nerang and the contractor running the Gold Coast facility left more than 70 vulnerable elderly residents in limbo when it was shut down about 2:00pm on Thursday.

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stopping you from being forced to pay any unreasonable charges relating to selling your unit. Note: Aged care accommodation costs are regulated by the Commonwealth Government. If you are a non-owner resident , the payment of your exit entitlement could be delayed if the village operator cannot

But HelpStreet Group, which operated the centre, has been accused of still collecting money as the shutdown proceeded.

Elizabeth Brown's mother, who has dementia, was one of those evacuated from Earle Haven.

Ms Brown told the ABC on Friday afternoon that $2,500 was withdrawn from their account to pay for next month's services.

"I received a tax invoice on the 10th and it indicates, as per normal, that the payment is due on the 20th of July," she said.

"However, I contacted the bank this afternoon and they have indicated that the payment came out yesterday on the 11th of July."

Lorraine Cook's husband had only arrived at Earle Haven last week before being one of those forced to leave.

Ms Cook also confirmed the payment due on July 20 was taken from her account on Thursday.

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"While all this fracas was going on yesterday, they took money out of everybody's account early," Ms Cook said.

"I rang around and told a lot of people about it but it's too late. They've already done it.

"It's not their money. They won't be there to do the care so they shouldn't have taken it."

She said her husband was "very, very confused, like most of them down there".

The ABC contacted HelpStreet's legal team who said they would not be making any further comment.

Ms Brown said she had not been contacted by HelpStreet.

"I'm beyond disappointed. The staff were lovely and I was there a fortnight ago. They were so nice. It is so disappointing that it could come to this for those elderly people," she said.

Ms Brown said the one good thing was that her mother was coping well.

"One potential upside to dementia, she thinks it's a lovely place. It's got some nice artwork. So look, that is a positive."

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Authorities greeted with chaotic scenes

HelpStreet Group said they had no choice to close after staff allegedly went unpaid due to a contract dispute with People Care, the overarching aged care provider.

Staff called triple-0, asking for authorities to attend Earle Haven and police officers were met by chaotic scenes when accommodation had to be found for more than 70 residents, many of whom have dementia.

More than 32 paramedics, nurses, doctors and Queensland Health staff, as well as the state Health Minister, attended the village to organise the transfers.

Over eight hours, the majority of residents were moved to about a dozen other nursing homes and three were taken to hospital. The urgent operation was completed just after 1:00am.

It is understood People Care hired management company HelpStreet Group to run the facility in April 2018, after the Federal Government listed four sanctions for management and regulatory compliance concerns, and a failure to ensure residents received appropriate clinical care.

HelpStreet's Chris Bunker said over the past 15 months they had employed new staff and improved systems, however that had come at a cost.

Mr Bunker said People Care — of which Arthur Miller is the director — wanted to end their contract early, on August 9.

He alleged People Care had not paid them for a month, and previous months were late, and there were deductions that they could not account for.

However, a statement from lawyers acting for People Care said an email was sent to Mr Bunker on Thursday giving assurances that all payments would be made to HelpStreet "up to the date of departure from the premises".

In the statement, People Care alleged that HelpStreet engaged removalists to take "computers, client records, furniture and effects without any notice" — an allegation that HelpStreet has denied.

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She was one of 71 residents moved after Queensland health workers stormed off the job over a contractual dispute over pay, prompting one staff member to dial Triple Zero.

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