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Fund launched to tackle rest home complaints

Consumer NZ has opened a new fund to help consumers take complaints against rest homes to the Disputes Tribunal.

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Robert Love and Consumer NZ CEO Sue Chetwin.
Robert Love and Consumer NZ CEO Sue Chetwin.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin says consumers can apply to the fund for financial support to meet the costs of filing a claim in the tribunal.

“Just like any other trader, rest homes are obligated under consumer law to provide services with reasonable care and skill. If they don’t, and that failure results in you being left out of pocket, then you have grounds to take the case to the tribunal,” Ms Chetwin says.

The fund has been made possible due to a donation from Robert Love, a Consumer NZ member who recently won a tribunal case against rest home provider Bupa Care Services.

The tribunal found Bupa failed to provide required services to Mr Love’s mother and misled him about its capacity to deliver those services. Bupa was ordered to pay Mr Love $10,000, which he donated to Consumer NZ to establish a fund to help others.

Mr Love says he wants the fund to show people in similar situations there is something you can do that has a meaningful outcome.

“The Disputes Tribunal provided a forum where I could present evidence of the failings in care provided to my mother and feel like I was being heard. That’s not what I felt when I tried to raise my concerns through the formal complaints channels,” Mr Love says.

Ms Chetwin says existing complaints processes need to do a better job when consumers raise concerns about rest home care. Rest homes must also face meaningful sanctions when they fail to deliver care to required standards, she says.

The new fund is called the Freda Love Fund, in memory of Mr Love’s mother.

Q and A

How does the Disputes Tribunal work?
Disputes Tribunals are the modern version of a small claims court. Consumers can take a case to the tribunal where they have a dispute with a trader that they can’t resolve.

Are there limits on the value of claims the tribunal can hear?
The tribunal can hear claims for amounts up to $15,000, or up to $20,000 with the agreement of both parties.

How much does it cost to file a claim?
Disputes Tribunal fees are staggered, based on the amount of money claimed.

  • Under $2000, the fee is $45
  • $2000 to $4999, the fee is $90
  • $5000 to $20,000, the fee is $180.

Are lawyers allowed in the tribunal?
No.

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Fund is here to help

The Freda Love Fund has been established to help people take complaints against rest homes to the Disputes Tribunal. We established the fund after receiving a donation from Robert Love, a Consumer NZ member who won his tribunal case against rest home provider Bupa Care Services.

Learn more