Insights into rest home standards

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2013

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Choosing a rest home has been made easier through a new Ministry of Health initiative.

A six-month trial is under way that allows the public online access to full audit reports of aged-care facilities across New Zealand.

The report outlines each rest home's overall performance, including what is going well and what needs improvement.

The scheme was part of a push by the Government to improve services for older people, including an extra $70 million in this year's Budget towards aged residential care.

Taranaki has 29 rest homes registered on the website - 20 in the New Plymouth District, six in South Taranaki and three in Stratford.

Craig Seaman, facility manager of Stratford's Elizabeth R Rest Home and Hospital, said written reports were helpful but formed only a small part of the bigger picture.

He recommended unannounced visits to potential rest homes to meet staff and check what facilities were offered.

"You can't get that from a report," he said.

Opunake Cottage Rest Home's Daphne Holley supported the ministry's initiative.

As the manager of the only rest home in Opunake, she said that a good reputation was important and reassured families.

"People choose by word of mouth and they do read those reports," she said.

Summary reports are already available to the public, but the new information provided more detail, including progress reports on what rest homes were doing to address identified problems.

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said the launch of the new website would give New Zealanders easy access to information about care facilities in their area.

"This new enhanced website will, over time, provide a much clearer picture of how rest homes operate and the care provided to the residents," she said.

Rest home audits were carried out every one to four years, and involved checks on various standards and criteria.

This period would also include one unannounced spot check visit.

For more information visit health.govt.nz/resthomes.

TIPS FOR CHOOSING A REST HOME:

Find out what facilities are available in your area.

Do some research online and read any available reports.

Personally visit the rest homes you are interested in and meet staff face to face.

Do an unannounced visit if possible.

TIMELY DECISION

Margaretha and Bob Ockhuysen think they got the timing about right when they decided to move into the Opunake Cottage Rest Home in January.

Despitewanting to be independent, the pair's health began to decline.

"All of a sudden there was a day when I thought I can't make the breakfast tomorrow," Mrs Ockhuysen said.

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Retired electrician and businessman Mr Ockhuysen said it was now a matter of making the best out of a bad situation.

"As you get older you don't want to be a burden if you can avoid it," he said.

Mrs Ockhuysen said their four children had been part of the decision-making process and still offered support when needed.

"It's a lot easier on them," the 84-year-old said.

Living in a rest home close to family and friends was a plus, along with the various activities on offer.

The personal relationship the Ockhuysens had with the facility manager made their choice easier.

Mrs Ockhuysen said she saw the quality of the care offered at the home every day and that staff often went the extra mile for residents.

The couple advised other people in their position to consider their options.

"Carry on by yourselves while you can, but not for too long," Mrs Ockhuysen said.


- © Fairfax NZ News

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