'Nasty' incidents missed in audits

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 16:52 26/11/2013

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Full rest home audits are being made available online for the first time, but there are doubts about how useful the new information will be.

The full audits can be found through a Ministry of Health website in a six-month trial.

The ministry said the website launched today would make it easier overall to find information about rest homes.

Information was available on 650 aged-care providers, with about 90 recently completed full audits available online from today. More audits would be added as they were carried out, and it was expected 250 audits would be online by the end of the trial.

Audit summaries have already been available online. Now progress made by providers on carrying out required improvements would be tracked and shown on the website.

A review by Consumer NZ published this year found fewer than 10 per cent of rest homes fully complied with healthcare criteria.

There have been well-publicised and distressing cases of rest homes failing to properly look after residents.

Age Concern welcomed the online publication of the full audits, although chief executive Ann Martin acknowledged not everyone would want to read 100 pages of detailed information.

In the past it had been felt the full audits were too technical and many people would not understand them.

However, she believed many people would understand the reports.

The audit summaries, which have already been available, did not provide enough information for some people.

"We feel the rest homes are likely to feel more exposed in terms of their services and will try to ensure their reports are positive and will take steps to achieve better reports," Martin said.

Age Concern was worried that incidents - some "nasty" - it was aware of had not been reported in the audit summaries.

That might be a wider problem with the audit process, as it was thought residents were often deciding not to talk about what had happened to them.

"The problem that we have is that people now residing in rest homes are very ill, vulnerable and have a lot of disability," Martin said.

Their conditions were more complex than had been the case in the past.

Aged Care Association chief executive Martin Taylor said he thought the public would struggle to understand the jargon and meaning of the full audits.

The public wanted an indication of the quality of service delivery and he doubted they would get that, he told Radio New Zealand.

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said the full audits were "really long" and "quite complex".

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