The son of an elderly woman who was left under a thin blanket in her urine-soaked bed with the window open has won a case against the rest home for poor care.
Bupa Care Services has been ordered to pay $10,000 by the Disputes Tribunal after failing to deliver reasonable standards of care to 92-year-old Freda Love at its St Kilda Care Home in the Waikato.
Robert Love brought the case against Bupa over the failings in care provided to his mother, who died in Waikato Hospital in February this year.
Freda Love was a resident of St Kilda Care Home in the upmarket new Cambridge suburb last year. Robert Love paid extra for a premium room for his mother who required hospital-level care.
But on one visit to the home in October last year, 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.
He complained initially to the rest home, then the Health and Disability Commission, and eventually to the Disputes Tribunal.
In its decision released this week the tribunal found Bupa misled Love about its ability to provide the level of care his mother required.
The tribunal 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 Love.
It ordered Bupa to refund Love the $8100 he paid for his mother's premium room, and compensate him for travel and other expenses he incurred as a result of efforts to remedy shortfalls in the care provided to his mother.
Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said her organisation backed 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," she said.
Chetwin said the premium room staffing ratio of one caregiver for every 10 residents meant Freda Love sometimes had to wait hours for assistance.
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," Chetwin said.
"A complaints process that's responsive to consumer concerns also needs to be a priority."
The Herald has left messages for Bupa Care.