The Herald today reported on a 70-year-old with severe dementia who is being evicted from his rest home in Torbay, Auckland because staff are feeling “harassed and vulnerable” due to the way the client’s wife has pursued her complaints.

Waitemata DHB has told the wife, Ruth Schumann, that the rest home, Freeling Holt House, that they accepted her right to raise concerns, and that some of these concerns were justified.

However, they went on to say, “But your hostile manner towards the staff and the relentless way in which you pursue your concerns has left them feeling harassed and vulnerable.

“We note that the other facilities Mr Schumann has been in have raised similar issues about your behaviour.”

Schumann rejects the allegation of aggressive behaviour.

Her husband has been moved on from four other rest homes. Schumann claims three of these moves were directly linked to her complaints.

“The reason people don’t speak up is because they absolutely fear what has happened to Dennis. Because rest homes move their complaints. They don’t solve them, they move them. That’s the reason aged care is in the mess it’s in,” she told the Herald.

However, chief executive of the New Zealand Aged Care Association, Simon Wallace, disagrees. He told INsite he has seen or heard no evidence of rest homes dealing with complaints by moving a client to another rest home rather than resolving the issue.

He doesn’t think there is a need for rest homes to improve the way they deal with complaints and difficult clients.

“Cases such as this are extremely rare and are not indicative of any wider issues concerning rest homes dealing with complaints.”

Even so, the Ministry of Health along with aged care providers, Health & Disability Commission, district health board and the Health Quality Safety Commission have developed a survey to better understand what issues people encounter when they have concerns around rest home/aged care facility care.

The feedback will be used to inform workshops that are being held late November. All of the survey and workshop feedback will help improve how complaints are handled in rest homes.

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