Push to make rest-home audits public

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 05:00 15/07/2013

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Rest home audits could soon be made public as the Government responds to pressure to make the facilities more accountable, although critics say there is still a long way to go.

The industry's reputation has suffered damage in recent years with several critical reports and stories of neglect and malpractice.

There have been calls for more information to be made available, for mandatory staff-to-patient ratios and for improved monitoring of homes. While there have been improvements, critics say they are not enough.

The Government says it is likely to concede some ground by making full audits already carried out on rest homes available to the public.

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said: "I have asked the Ministry of Health to consider ways of increasing the amount of information on residential care facilities available on their website. I expect to receive a report from them regarding this by the end of August."

At present, summaries are available online but the ministry does not routinely publish full reports. It also does not keep historical records, publishing only a home's most recent report.

The Government has said other recommended measures such as the staff-to-patient ratios and higher pay are not on the agenda.

The comments come after a recent Consumer New Zealand report revealed only one in 10 rest homes met all mandatory health care requirements.

Of the 634 homes reviewed, 61 per cent had more-than-minor shortfalls.

The report also said there had been limited improvements since a 2009 report by Auditor-General Lynn Provost which was critical of rest home monitoring.

A report by former Human Rights Commissioner Judy McGregor released this year after she worked undercover as a carer was also scathing.

McGregor's replacement, Jackie Blue, said the commission wanted a five-star rating for homes to help with consumer choice and quality assurance.

Blue pointed to the effect of quarterly publishing of district health board targets, which had resulted in "dramatic improvements".

Labour Health spokeswoman Annette King said the move was a small step towards ensuring quality of care was up to standard.

Goodhew said any proposal would require consultation with DHBs and the aged care sector.

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- The Dominion Post

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