Rest home ordered to shape up

23:00, Mar 01 2010

Palmerston North rest home Aroha Lifecare has been set an ultimatum – provide residents with the level of care it's paid for within 10 days or risk losing its contract.

But the owners said the threat was unnecessarily "heavy" because three out of the four issues the MidCentral District Health Board wanted tidied up had been dealt with.

Board funding manager Mike Grant said unless he was satisfied the 45-bed facility, owned by Ultimate Care Group, complied, he would start working through the provisions of its agreement that could lead to terminating the contract.

Aroha is the ninth rest home in the district the board has accused of providing sub-standard care in the past 18 months.

The Rose A Lea rest home, where a complaint was made about a dying resident being tied to the bed, was closed down in November.

The alleged breaches at Aroha are that the facility manager does not have professional health qualifications, that hospital level patients are cared for in the rest home, dementia patients are cared for in the hospital and a report into the care of a patient who died was inadequate.

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Ultimate Care director David Renwick said he was disturbed to first hear about the ultimatum from the media.

"There has been a dialogue between ourselves and the board, and we have been expecting a response to a letter we sent.

"We have not had any communication from them. It's totally unprofessional."

The dispute began in July, when the board received a complaint about the death of a resident at Aroha. It called in auditors Central Technical Advisory Services (TAS), who visited in September and reported 17 breaches of contract.

As well as the breaches in dispute, the auditors criticised staff training, systems, care plans, use of restraint, and complaints management.

The owners sought an independent review of the audit process and findings which was carried out by KPMG. It found TAS followed appropriate audit processes, that its findings were reasonable and could be supported.

Mr Renwick said the board since acknowledged that Aroha resolved 11 of the issues raised in the audit report, and partially complied on another six, leaving only four to go.

Mr Renwick said the only outstanding issue was that the facility manager was not a registered nurse.

However, the clinical manager was a nurse, and reported directly to Ultimate Care's regional manager, who was also a nurse.

The Manawatu Standard