11 Jul 2008

Govt orders wider check on rest homes

5:57 am on 11 July 2008

The Government has told health officials to conduct a full check on rest homes they may have concerns about, following the termination of the contract for Belhaven Rest Home in Auckland.

Auckland District Health Board terminated its contract with the Belhaven Rest Home on Thursday, two weeks after a tradesman photographed a resident with her mouth taped shut.

A staff member was dismissed shortly after the alleged abuse occurred.

Health Minister David Cunliffe has told the Ministry of Health to prepare a report on the situation at other homes where there might be cause for concern.

Mr Cunliffe says the Ministry does not currently believe there are any such homes in the same category as Belhaven, where the Auckland District Health Board was worried about clinical governance.

He says he has not seen any evidence to suggest Belhaven is an example of wider problems in the industry.


Auckland DHB says its decision to end the rest home's contract is based on preliminary findings of Ministry of Health investigations and recommendations from a temporary manager appointed last week.

The board says significant concerns remain over Belhaven's clinical management and remedial action would be complex and take a long time. It says Belhaven does not meet the required standards of care.

On Thursday, the Auckland DHB defended its system for auditing rest homes. Chief planning and funding officer Denis Jury told Checkpoint that Belhaven did not have adequate management policies.

However, Dr Jury says audits are conducted once every three years, and the board cannot pick up problems between audits if they are not brought to its attention.

Eight of the residents are funded by the DHB and are expected to move out of the home by Friday afternoon. The remaining two are private patients.

The DHB says it is discussing options with residents and their families, and trying to ensure that residents are able to stay together when they move.

Concern for residents

Age Concern chief executive Ann Martin says she is concerned that the residents are being moved with unacceptable haste, at very little notice.

Ms Martin told Checkpoint it will be very disruptive and upsetting for residents to change so quickly - especially those with high needs.

She says her organisation had hoped Belhaven's shortcomings could have been fixed, with good care provided and extra assistance given to the carers.

No one from Belhaven Rest Home has been available for comment.