Since the Department of Health’s release in September 2016 about additional services fees, Russell Kennedy has received an increased number of enquiries from aged care providers dealing with complaints in relation to additional services. This trend has only been exacerbated by the recent media reports about the retirement living industry, in part due to the public’s confusion between the aged care and retirement living sectors.
In our experience, resident complaints about additional services fees are frequently escalated to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. A particular concern that is expressed by complainants and investigated by the Commissioner is the mandatory purchase of additional services. Another is the bundling of additional services in to a package that the resident purchases.
What should providers do?
If you have an additional services program, we recommend you carefully review the program to ensure you are complying with the legal requirements under the Aged Care Act, the Department’s announcement as well as other laws, such as the Australian Consumer law.
Important matters to look at are:
- does your agreement properly describe the additional services?
- can you demonstrate residents were clearly advised of the fee prior to entry?
- are the additional services you offer specifically differentiated from specified care and services?
- how are you charging for additional services?
- how are you invoicing your residents?