Inside our rest homes: Audits show lapses in care

By Martin Johnston, Simon Collins

Health Ministry releases first batch of 88 rest home reports as part of six-month trial.

Edmund Hillary Retirement Village. Photo / APN
Edmund Hillary Retirement Village. Photo / APN

One of the country's biggest rest homes has been stung for letting two elderly residents lose a substantial amount of weight without proper intervention.

One of the residents at Ryman Healthcare's Edmund Hillary Retirement Village in Remuera lost 10kg between January this year and an audit in September, but a doctor wrongly reported in June that the person's weight was stable and the rest home failed to call in a dietitian.

Another lost 4kg in two months from July to September but the home did not weigh the patient weekly or monitor food and fluid intake as required, and did not notify a doctor.

The audit is one of a first batch of 88 full rest home audits posted on the Ministry of Health website yesterday at the start of a six-month trial.

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew has said the ministry will keep posting audits after six months only if people bother to read them.

Other audits found:

Failings in managing pressure sores at a number of homes.

Expired medications still being used.

Failings in diabetes management.

Care plans failing to specify actions to deal with issues such as pain management, shortness of breath and depression.

Ryman chief executive Simon Challies said the Edmund Hillary home, the country's second-biggest aged care site, reviewed how it was monitoring weight for all residents after the audit.

"Where someone's weight changes by plus or minus 2kg in a month, we put in place a plan for more frequent monitoring, add nutritional supplements and refer to the GP for further action," he said.

A Herald sampling of 27 of the first 88 audits found one that failed 13 of the 101 required standards, but also three that had no failings at all among the limited issues that were audited.

Two of these were limited spot audits checking only that previous problems had been dealt with, and one was a provisional audit for Oceania's new Eden Lifestyle Care and Village in Mt Eden.

Most homes fully attained most of the 101 standards and two in our sample, Claire House in Mt Eden and Avonlea in Christchurch, were commended for "continued improvement" beyond the standards.

Despite public concerns about staffing levels, our sampling found only one home - Brooklands Rest Home in New Plymouth - where residents, relatives or staff said staffing levels were inadequate.

"Care staff report that they struggle to get through their work because they are spending more time with the residents who are frail and becoming increasingly more dependent," the audit said. It recommended a review of staffing levels within a month.

At Bupa's Redwood Home and Hospital in Rotorua, auditors in September found "moderate" lapses in management of one resident. BCSNZ Managing Director Grainne Moss said the Bupa team had immediately reviewed the issue raised.

On the web

Are you or someone in your family thinking about moving into a rest-home? The Herald has compiled this guide for you to consider before you make your choice.

- NZ Herald

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