17 Jul 2008

Complaints laid over Christchurch rest home

6:59 pm on 17 July 2008

The Canterbury District Health Board says it is investigating claims that a Christchurch rest home is not providing adequate care.

Concerns have been raised about the way people are being looked after at the Villa Gardens Home and Hospital.

The Health Board says it has asked the facility to respond to the allegations of inadequate care.

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, the board says the home has been working to address the findings of the audit over the past 18 months.

Acting Health and Disability Commissioner Tania Thomas has confirmed two official complaints have been made in the past year.

Ms Thomas says one was resolved through advocacy and no action was taken on the other complaint, but would not say why.

Staff members at the Christchurch rest home went to the media about their concerns after seeing an image of a resident from Belhaven Rest Home in Auckland whose mouth had been taped shut.

Belhaven is to officially close on Thursday after the Auckland District Health Board terminated its contract.

A 60-year-old woman has appeared in court charged with assaulting a resident at the home. She has been granted interim name suppression in Auckland District Court and was ordered to reappear on 6 August.

She is accused of common assault on a woman, whose name is also suppressed.

Call for better auditing system

The system used to audit rest homes has been criticised following recent high-profile cases of elder abuse.

Lobby group Action on Elder Abuse says the current auditing system for rest homes lacks teeth, because auditors do not interview rest home residents or relatives.

An Age Concern spokesperson, Jane McKendry, says the system is flawed as spot checks on rest-homes are only performed when a complaint is received.

Ms McKendry says many elderly victims and witnesses of abuse are too scared to complain.