Action urged over rest home staffing

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 13:56 26/09/2012
Wiltshire Home
Don Scott

REST FACILITY: The Wiltshire Lifecare Home and Hospital in Rangiora.

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The Government needs to address rest home staffing issues to avoid ''horror stories'' of elderly neglect, Labour's aged care spokesman says.

Yesterday The Press revealed a Rangiora rest home had its licence renewed in January despite audit teams having full access to a raft of complaints about the facility including poor staffing levels and lack of care.

The certification for the Wiltshire Lifecare Home and Hospital was renewed a month after 86-year-old Lois Morrison, a resident at the rest home, died with terminal onset scabies.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) seized control in July and continues to oversee improvements at the facility.

The board yesterday released its summary report that said doctors found residents were dehydrated, some were suffering from unmanaged weight loss and were not being cared for properly.

Labour's aged care spokesman Kris Faafoi said such stories made him ''sad''.

"Despite the Government's assurances that its auditing and monitoring system is working, there's still far too many similar cases being reported. It's not good enough.''

He said the worst aspect was that such stories kept being published. ''The Ministry of Health has a lot of work to do because it can't go on like this."

The Government needed to pay aged care staff better in order to attract ''top-quality people''.

In January, HealthCERT, which does rest home audits for the ministry, renewed the certification of Wiltshire until 2014.

The board has received 11 complaints about the facility since 2010 and the Health and Disability Commissioner is investigating three complaints.

Yesterday, a ministry spokesman said a two-year certification was ''indicative of a rest home with issues that need addressing''.

He said HealthCERT was aware of complaints at the time it renewed the licence.

Human Rights Commissioner Judy McGregor this year released a report calling Caring Counts that highlighted ongoing problems around inadequate staffing levels and poor pay.

RANGIORA REST HOME FAILED BASIC CARE

A report released yesterday on Wiltshire found it had been failing to comply with its contract and aged-care legislation, it said.

The board seized control of the rest home on July 2, and 50 residents underwent assessments in the first five days.

Doctors found residents were dehydrated and others were suffering from "unmanaged weight loss". Other findings included lack of attendance to basic care such as continence management, oral hygiene, nail care and podiatry. Some residents were suffering from bedsores.

Medication errors, poor wound care, staff shortages and lack of pain management were also highlighted. The audit team found the rest home was "dimly lit" and the temperature was below recommended levels.

The team found staff morale was low, and infection prevention and control measures were lacking.

The report confirmed there had been two scabies outbreaks at the home in recent months.

The board has employed more staff and has bought additional equipment, including bedrail protectors, air mattresses and an extra lifting hoist.

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Medication-related issues were still being reviewed, it said.

The ministry's renewal audit, which was carried out on January 26, assessed Wiltshire under six categories and found no shortfalls with infection prevention and control, consumer rights and safe practice.

However, there were a "number of shortfalls that require specific action" in organisational management, consistent service delivery and safe and appropriate environment.

Millar said temporary manager Gillian Robinson would remain in charge until "we are totally confident" that Wiltshire had changed.

A spokesman said last night that the ministry was aware of the issues before granting the new certificate.

"The certification identified required improvements. The subsequent issues-based audit was carried out after fresh complaints, when it also became evident improvements had not yet been actioned," he said.

"The two-year certification is indicative of a rest home with issues that need addressing.

"It means that besides the work already under way, the rest home will, during those two years, be subject to two further audits, one of them unannounced."

Carl Beaumont, whose father, Jack, died a day after arriving at Christchurch Hospital with urine scald and bedsores from Wiltshire, said the CDHB report "did not go far enough".

Beaumont is among the three people who have complaints being investigated by the HDC.

"While I'm glad the CDHB is being proactive, there is still no- one who is being held accountable, and that's just not good enough," he said.

Beaumont was considering legal action but would wait until the commissioner had finished its investigation.

If the HDC finds a registered health professional has breached standards, the case may be referred to the nursing or medical councils. If it is deemed an organisational matter, it may be handed to the Human Rights Commission.

Wiltshire said yesterday that it had implemented "important changes", including hiring a senior clinical manager and improving staff training.

Director Paul Busby said North Canterbury residents could have "full confidence in Wiltshire" as a rest home that provided "quality care for the elderly".

- The Press

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