Rest homes will soon publish charges for so-called "premium" rooms, after Covid-19 held up a change designed to provide more transparency over the controversial charges.
Costs for the premium rooms can range from an extra $50 to more than $100 more each week, for features such as an en suite or garden access.
DHB funding for eligible residents does not cover premium room charges.
The fees are negotiated between the home and resident, or their family. Such charging is a growing revenue stream, but there have been concerns about how much information people have about pricing.
DHBs have pushed for aged-care providers to publish minimum and maximum charges for rooms from July 1, but the Covid-19 crisis delayed the initiative.
A new deadline to resolve the issue has now been set for October 1.
The NZ Aged Care Association, which represents providers accounting for more than 90 per cent of the sector, says rest homes are funded by the Government for a standard 11 square metre room with shared facilities. Families often want a larger room for their relative and an en suite, and this is why there's a need for the extra premium room charge.
Transparency already exists and room prices are disclosed to residents and families at the time of viewing and before a room is confirmed, the association says, and charges are clearly set out in any admission agreement.
However, Consumer NZ has raised concerns about the charges, including the false impression they provide a higher level of care. Complaints include that rest homes may promote premium rooms as the best or only option available.
If a facility has no standard rooms available, it can require a new resident to pay for a premium room only if occupancy is 90 per cent or higher, and it has found a provider within 10km that has a standard room available. Those rules still cover facilities that only have premium rooms.
The focus on rest home costs comes after Parliament's Social Services and Community Committee recommended to the Government it investigate establishing a Commissioner for the Elderly.
It comes three years after Labour pledged before the 2017 general election to introduce an Aged-Care Commissioner, after a cross-party inquiry that found falling elderly care standards. The position was to be provided for in Labour's first budget, but never eventuated.
Rest homes have again locked their doors to visitors after community transmission of Covid-19 re-emerged in Auckland.
'Premium' rest home rooms
• Charges for premium rooms can range from an extra $50 to over $100 more a week for features such as an en suite or garden access. This is different to a room having additional services, such as Sky TV.
• There have been concerns over how the costs are presented and explained to residents and their families. Premium room charges are negotiated between the home and resident, and must be clearly specified in the admission agreement.
• DHB funding for eligible residents does not cover premium room charges. Health boards want homes to publish more information about these costs.