A man who won a case in the Disputes Tribunal against Bupa Care Services for its neglect of his elderly mother has hit out at claims it apologised to him.

Robert Love says Bupa, the owner of St Kilda Care Home where his 92-year-old mother Freda Love was regularly left in urine-soaked bed linen, has not apologised to him as it claimed last week.

Love won a Disputes Tribunal case against Bupa Care Services which was ordered to pay him $10,000 for failing to deliver reasonable standards of care.

The tribunal found Bupa breached its contract with Love as well as the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act.


Freda Love, who could not walk but otherwise enjoyed robust health, soiled herself when she was left unattended and waiting for almost three hours to go to the toilet.

On another occasion she was found by her son shivering under a thin blanket in a urine-soaked bed with the window open and the call bell out of reach.

She also sweltered in a room that reached 30C in summer because of inadequate design, and had a sticking plaster put across raw skin on her buttocks.

In January Love removed his mother from the home after five months of assurances by Bupa that St Kilda staff would do better.

"During this relatively short period she endured multiple occurrences of neglect, failure to provide the necessities of life, long delays in the provision of care along with incompetent and distressing treatment," Love said in an open letter.

"It was a devastating experience."

Freda Love died in Waikato Hospital in February and the case prompted Consumer NZ to call for an independent inquiry into rest homes.

St Kilda Care Home in Cambridge where Freda Love was left in urine-soaked bedding many times. Photo / Consumer NZ.
St Kilda Care Home in Cambridge where Freda Love was left in urine-soaked bedding many times. Photo / Consumer NZ.

Following the tribunal decision, Bupa issued a statement saying it "regretted the incident, has apologised to the Love family and was working on better practices and policies".


"That statement is factually incorrect and misleading," Love, from Tauranga, said.

He said making matters worse New Zealand Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace repeated the information.

"My family have not received an apology from Bupa. Bupa have not written to me with any formal or informal apology.

"If the Bupa statement is referring to the four letters Bupa wrote in response to my complaints last year, these are not what can be considered an apology."

On top of that he said Bupa last wrote to him on April 21 this year to inform him there would be a delay in responding to his complaint while an investigation was conducted.

"I am still waiting."

Love believes there should be an inquiry into rest homes and said there would have been no consequence for Bupa if he had not taken a case to the tribunal.

He said it did not seem to have learned anything from his mother's ordeal.

When questioned about an apology a Bupa spokeswoman said the company had nothing further to add to the Love case.

Wallace told the Herald he relied on the same statement from Bupa sent to media last week and he would now investigate Love's claim.

"If that's proven to be the case I would be very concerned," Wallace said.

"Cases like this are one too many in the sector and we do not accept anything but the best possible care for our residents.

"And we would expect any of our members to co-operate with any inquiry and expect them to do so across all the agencies with which they deal."