Elderly need Aged Care Commissioner: Labour
Labour is pledging to introduce Aged Care Commissioner if elected, after a cross-party inquiry found elderly care standards are falling.
The party's health spokesman David Clark said independent oversight of the sector was needed from someone with statutory powers and the ability to investigate and make recommendations to Parliament.
"This will be provided for in our first budget," he said.
Clark said a commissioner would hear complaints about elder abuse and investigate a star-rating system for care in people's homes.
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The inquiry, led by Labour, the Greens and Grey Power, recommended establishing an Aged Care Commissioner to protect older Kiwis from breaches in standards of care.
Concerns aired at nine meetings over the past six months covered substandard housing provision, standards of residential and community-based care, access to surgery and elder abuse.
The idea was not new. Grey Power and others within the sector had called for a commissioner for "a long time", Clark said.
"We have heard stories such as a patient with dementia who kept falling off her chair onto the floor. She was left there then propped up on the chair until she fell again and was eventually admitted to hospital."
Clark said there were positive stories of high-quality care, but more monitoring was needed to ensure consistency of services.
New Zealand Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace said the sector was already heavily regulated and providers were accountable to District Health Boards.
Providers were regularly audited, he said.
The Health and Disability Commission provided an avenue for complaints, but he acknowledged the process was cumbersome and slow.
The association wanted a Minister for Aged Care established.
"This would give more impetus to issues of the aged and would have a health focus."
Commercial residential aged care providers had grown, while not-for-profits had fallen from 32 to 20 per cent of the sector since 2010.
Smaller NGO and faith-based providers in regional areas were most under pressure due to underfunding and increased costs, including carer wage increases from the equal pay settlement, the inquiry report said.