10 Jul 2008

Auckland DHB terminates contract with rest home

6:33 pm on 10 July 2008

Auckland District Health Board has terminated its contract with Belhaven Rest Home in Epsom, following allegations that a former staff member taped a resident's mouth shut.

The alleged abuse happened nearly two weeks ago and a staff member was dismissed soon after.

The DHB says its decision to terminate the contract is based on the preliminary findings of the Ministry of Health's 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.