Reputation means everything when it comes to business, and it’s fair to say that the reputation of Bupa as a brand has taken a number of hits over the last 18 months.

The Australian aged care sector is currently under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, and with nine homes currently sanctioned, Bupa has slowly become the brand name associated with current failings of the aged care system.

Assaults by staff members, issues with wound management, sexual assault and a number of failings regarding basic standards of care within nursing home facilities have begun to transcend their business dealings in the aged sector and affect their other avenues of revenue.

Bupa, who have their headquarters located in London, is a business that offers insurance, healthcare, and nursing home services in a number countries around the world, was recently announced to replace Medibank as the Australian defence forces healthcare contractor from the start of July.

But it appears as though all the negativity surrounding poor performance in the aged care sector, has the defense force watchdog questioning if Bupa was the right choice for such an important task.

Neil James, executive director of The Australian Defence Association told HelloCare that they were reasonably concerned about the Bupa’s abilities to provide care, and had been since the tenders went in.

“They have a reputation for being hard-nosed about the provision of services and there has been a decline in standards in the aged care sector that we don’t want to see repeated in the Defence Force,” said Neil.

“Generally speaking, Medibank had a lot of problems meeting standards under the previous contracts, and Bupa don’t have a great reputation in this regard, so our fear is that things will be even worse.”

“They’re both different types of health services, but the comparison is – If they’re not good at one, are they going to be good at the other?”

One of the problems with having Bupa in a position to provide care to the defence force is a concern that seems to be plaguing their reputation within the aged care industry.

Bupa is a profit-driven business who have a reputation as being “vicious cost cutters”, which many believe is the root of the problem regarding the inability to provide care of a high standard in a slew of their nursing home facilities.

Soldiers, like the elderly, deserve medical services that are solely driven by the want and need to provide the highest level of care, while Bupa seemingly employs a model of care that is finance-driven with a key focus on maximising profits.

While it is encouraging to see that those who represent our country’s defence force voicing their concern for the welfare of our younger and fitter demographic of defence force personnel, it certainly begs the question as to why Bupa are still allowed to function as an aged care provider given their chequered track record.

Although nine Bupa aged care facilities are under sanction, close to 20 homes struggled to meet aged care accreditation standards during recent audits according to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Which has left many members of the general public scratching their heads as to why Bupa are allowed to operate in the aged care sector at all?

Surely a business that has questions around its ability to provide care for some of the country’s fittest and strongest members of society should not be given the responsibility to care for Australia’s oldest and most vulnerable.


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