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Rest home investigation after 15 falls in 15 months

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 29/07/2014
A woman's fight to achieve justice
MARK TAYLOR / Fairfax NZ
JUSTICE FOR MUM: A woman’s fight to achieve justice for her mother, who allegedly suffered at a rest home, has nearly reached finality after a 43-month battle.

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A Waikato rest home where a resident allegedly suffered repeated falls has been investigated by authorities but its report has been embargoed as confidential, at least until October.

The Waikato Times understands a two-year investigation of Aparangi Village, in Te Kauwhata, was completed by the Health and Disability Commission in June, following complaints alleging that one resident fell 15 times during her stay.

The 69-year-old woman was in the village's elderly care facility from November 2010 to March 2012 but her daughter became concerned about a range of issues relating to her mother's care. She said she made six complaints in one month with the care home before deciding to go to the commission.

The Times understands the commission released a final report on June 30 but its contents remain confidential, with the commission yet to decide whether it will release an "anonymised" version of the report on October 13.

When approached for comment about the delay in making the report public, a spokesperson for the commission said there was no legal requirement to publish investigation reports.

"The commissioner's usual practice is to publish selected reports at appropriate intervals." The spokesperson said the report that identified all parties was intended only for those involved.

"Information [names and other identifying details] is intended for the parties and appropriate agencies only, and will be removed, as appropriate, prior to any publication of the report."

Neil Bateup, the chairman of Kauwhata Retirement Trust Board, which oversees Aparangi Village, said in a statement the trust received the complaint in 2012 via the health and disability commissioner.

"The trust has fully complied with the request for information by the commissioner and subsequent actions based on their findings."

He would not comment on the delay in any public release of the report other than to say he understood it was the normal process for the commission.

It has been a long, frustrating wait for the daughter who has filled almost six binders of material regarding the complaint which she provided to the commission.

"It was little things to start with, but eventually mum was having more bad days than good," she said.

"What no-one realises is that was their workplace, but it was mum's home."

She said the rest home's management has apologised to the family for the "distress and angst" it had caused and said it had audited its procedures.

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"Aparangi took away my voice for my mother, today I'm legally allowed to say what happened to mum . . . but it has taken 43 months," she said.

The daughter said the alleged incidents occurred over 15 months; it then took three months to collate all the medical notes, one month to write a comprehensive complaint to the commission and 24 months for the commission to issue a final report.

She said that complaint about the alleged falls included a serious fall her mother had in February 2012 when she fractured her right hip and was transferred to Waikato Hospital.

The daughter said the complaint to the commission also raised concerns about her mother's diabetes management, wound care, and infection control.

Bateup said the trust had apologised to the family for "any distress".

"We genuinely felt we were close to a resolution with the family. The facility has been under new management for 15 months and we are confident that our older residents of Te Kauwhata and surrounding areas are getting the best possible care.

"We have undertaken external and internal audits and are assured we have the right policies and procedures in place. These policies are subject to regular review and are monitored carefully to ensure we are compliant with the Health and Disability Sector Standards. The trust is confident we have addressed these past events and continue to meet the needs of our community under our new management regime."

The daughter says she has since moved her mother to a new rest home in Huntly, where her mother's diabetes is under control, and in the past two years she has had no falls. 

- Waikato Times

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