Waikato rest-home care complaints examined

Last updated 05:00 15/10/2012

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An elderly person had their head caught in a folding bed and another was left with unexplained black eyes according to complaints made against several Waikato rest homes in the past year.

The complaints were among eight made to the Health Ministry in the year September 2011-2012 - though only three were substantiated.

This follows 15 being made in the 12 months to September 2011.

The investigation reports, released to the Waikato Times under the Official Information Act, show Radius Maeroa Lodge as having received four complaints, Kintala Lodge rest home two, and one complaint each for Avonlea Hospital and Rest Home and Rossendale Dementia Care Home and Hospital.

It's not the first time Radius Maeroa Lodge has been in the spotlight, with the Hamilton-based rest home being told by the ministry in September 2011 to improve services or risk losing funding.

At that time, eight complaints had been laid against them in an 18-month period and staff had complained that there were insufficient staffing numbers to provide safe care.

In the last 12 months, families of residents in the home have complained about failures to provide care, a relative's head being "squashed" after a bed control jammed and a delay in receiving treatment for that and a bladder infection, that the staff were very "rude and arrogant" and that items of clothing had gone missing.

Two of the four complaints were substantiated.

Radius Care chief executive Brien Cree said at no time had care been compromised at Maeroa Lodge.

"Maeroa continues to provide a very good level of care to its residents as evidenced by the number of compliments we receive," he said.

He said issues raised by the ministry in their inspection last year had been addressed to the satisfaction of Waikato District Health Board and the ministry.

The complaint of being "rude and arrogant" was made against an independent doctor visiting Maeroa Lodge, not a staff member, he said.

Meanwhile, a complaint against Taumarunui-based Avonlea Hospital and Rest Home was also substantiated after three family members complained that their mother - who was unable to move or communicate - received two black eyes. They said no "credible" explanation was ever given.

It was not the first time their mother had sustained an injury in the home - previously getting a "very nasty hand injury" and leg injury.

"This makes our family very concerned about several aspects of her care," they wrote.

Following an investigation, the ministry found shortfalls in the home's communication with the woman's family as well as a lack of reporting of adverse events.

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They also found there were not enough registered nurses working at the home to meet demand. But DHB spokeswoman Mary Anne Gill said the home now had 24-hour registered nurse coverage and they continued to work with them to provide clinical support.

She said the DHB was confident people were getting high quality care at Waikato's rest homes, given their auditing processes.

Ministry chief medical officer, Dr Don Mackie, said there were more than 670 rest homes nationwide providing care for people with a wide range of complex health needs and they expected issues to arise.

All complaints were investigated and if substantiated, follow-up action was taken.

- Waikato Times

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