The law firm is reporting a growing number of enquiries from aged care providers dealing with complaints about additional services fees, including capital refurbishment fees, following the Fairfax and Four Corners coverage of retirement villages and recent changes to Department of Health guidelines.
In September last year, the Dept issued new guidance that ‘capital refurbishment fees’, ‘asset replacement contributions’ and similar fees are “not supported by the legislation” where the fee doesn’t “provide a direct benefit to the individual or the resident cannot take up or make use of the services” or they are part of the normal running of the facility.
Russell Kennedy say that these complaints are “frequently escalated” to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, with the mandatory purchase of additional services and the bundling of these services in to a package the main causes for complaint.
They advise providers to carefully review their additional services program to ensure they are compliant “under the Aged Care Act, the Department’s announcement as well as other laws, such as the Australian Consumer law.”
They are also offering additional services program ‘health checks’ to provide guidance and training to providers.