Lobbyists hail 6-month experiment but minister says reports will be removed if they're not read.
The Government has agreed to post full audit reports of rest homes online - but will take them down again after a six-month trial if people don't bother reading them.
The experiment will start in November after years of lobbying by Grey Power and Consumer NZ, which urges people to read the reports.
"We have been lobbying for this because the summary reports published at the moment are very slim on detail," said Consumer NZ research writer Jessica Wilson, who has analysed all reports on the country's 634 rest homes since 2009.
Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew told the Aged Care Association conference at Auckland's SkyCity convention centre yesterday that the full reports were "quite technical" and she did not want to spend money on editing them for online publication unless people read them.
"These reports are usually 100 pages and require considerable redaction of information which might identify either individual staff members or residents," she said.
"As this comes at a cost of considerable time, I have agreed to a six-month trial to see how many people bother to read those 100-page reports, and then we'll make a decision on whether we commit the resources to redacting each one of them."
The summary reports include a simple traffic light system with red lights for "major shortfalls", green lights for no shortfalls, and orange and yellow grades in between.
The existing Ministry of Health website shows only the latest summary for each rest home. Ms Wilson said that meant there was no way to trace the history of previous shortfalls or to see what actions rest homes took to correct their failings.
Mrs Goodhew said the revamped system from November would include all summary reports back to 2009 and edited full reports on all audits done from now on. She said summary audits of district health board services would also be made available from the same time.
Ms Wilson's latest analysis, published by Consumer NZ last month, found "widespread shortfalls" in rest homes.
"Our review of the summary audit reports for 634 homes found less than 10 per cent fully met required healthcare criteria," she wrote. "Around 28 per cent of facilities had minor shortfalls, 61 per cent had more than minor shortfalls, and 3 per cent had major shortfalls."
This month, an unannounced inspection of Wellington's Malvina Major rest home confirmed a lack of care after complaints that a patient had been found repeatedly covered in her own faeces.
Ms Wilson did not agree that the full reports were too technical for the public.
"They tell you where the home is failing and what they need to do, and consumers are telling us they need more information, not less," she said.
"If you are looking for a rest home for yourself or a family member, collecting as much information as you can is part of what you need to do, so we encourage people to go and look at the reports and to keep asking questions."