Frail elderly more challenging

23:23, May 31 2012
Julie Berriman
Pressure: Rest home manager Julie Berriman with resident Jim McIntyre

The concentration of frail people in rest homes is putting pressure on the system, says a Blenheim rest home manager, who describes the Government's ageing-in-place policy as more like "suffering in place".

Lakewood Home and Hospital general manager Julie Berriman said because the elderly are living at home longer, they require more care once they move into a rest home.

The Government's ageing-in-place policy of supporting the elderly to live in their own homes for as long as possible means they are more frail by the time they qualify for funded rest home care, she said.

"It has put more pressure on our resources and increased our workload but not our pay.

"It is getting harder and harder to fund all the things we need."

For each resident they receive $100 from the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, of which 70 per cent goes on wages, leaving little to buy extra resources required for the increasingly dependent residents, she said.


Of the 33 mostly part-time staff she employs, many have been working there for 10 years or more.

Some staff are over 60 and looking to retire soon, although there are some young girls coming through.

"I've recently employed some girls from the college to help with dinner service and dishes so staff can be on the floor providing the extra care required," she said.

"This is a direct result of the increase on residents coming to us in worse states of health. Some people say it is ageing in place, for some it's suffering in place," she said.

Picton's Seaview Home co-owner and clinical manager Donna Kreft has also noticed residents are more dependent than they used to be.

"When I started here 18 years ago we used to go out for cups of tea and the ladies would wear their pearls; we can't do that now.

"People are coming to us older, more frail, on a lot more medication and are a lot more dependent."

She has employed three or four extra staff during the past two years and some staff work longer hours to make up for the extra care required, she said.

"The 1.5 per cent increase in funding from the DHB is meant to be passed on to the staff and there is absolutely nothing left for the increasing medical and pharmaceutical costs."

The Human Rights Commission Caring Counts report comparing the elderly care industry to "modern-day slavery", released this week, is spot on but "there is no fat in the system", she said.

She has very low staff turnover and relies on their goodwill and caring nature to pick up the extra workload.

"The solution is more funding, but no-one wants to hear about it. The Government says there is no money.

"I just don't get how someone working in a public hospital doing the same job can be paid so much more."

The Marlborough Express