A subcontractor demanded $3 million be paid, half within 24 hours, before the unprecedented and abrupt closure of a Gold Coast retirement home, a royal commission was told, The Australian reports.
A dispute between approved aged-care provider People Care and HelpStreet, which managed the residential care facilities at Earle Haven Retirement Village, sparked the July 11 closure.
Counsel assisting the aged-care royal commission Paul Bolster said that on July 10 HelpStreet demanded People Care’s owner, Arthur Miller, pay $3m to resolve the dispute that was about to engulf the facility.
HelpStreet’s UK-based global CEO, Kris Bunker, confirmed that was the case, and that he wanted half of the $3m paid by noon the next day. He raised the possibility of HelpStreet Villages going into administration if the money was not paid.
“We were concerned with no payment from People Care, that HelpStreet Villages would not be able to trade,” Mr Bunker yesterday told the commission’s Brisbane hearing, via videolink from London.
“We were telling staff that we were in communication with People Care and we were trying to negotiate a future or a settlement of some kind.”
Mr Bunker said HelpStreet wanted to continue trading, and the $3m demand was “one solution for breach of contract”.
Patient records, medication and some furniture were removed from the Gold Coast retirement village, along with cleaning products. Emergency services personnel evacuated 69 elderly and frail residents, some with dementia, and moved them to temporary accommodation in other facilities.
Mr Miller said he did not know about the shutdown until he saw ambulances at the facility.
He gave HelpStreet a month’s notice of termination of their agreement on July 8, on the advice of his lawyers.
Elderly evicted from aged care home over $3m dispute (The Australian)
The chaos as staff fled and 68 nursing home residents were abandoned (Sydney Morning Herald)