Carolyn Cooper has only been in the role of aged care watchdog since March but is already calling for ‘urgent government action’ to address critical staff shortages.
“We are facing major challenges across the health system and urgent government intervention and a collaborative response from all sectors of aged care and health and disability is needed to address these challenges,” he said. said Cooper in an op-ed on the Health and Disability Commissioner’s website.
When asked when she wanted to see this intervention, she replied “yesterday”.
“I don’t think there’s enough emphasis on the needs of older people, and that’s why I wrote this article,” she said. Things.
* Aged care sector “in crisis” with more than 1,000 registered nurses needed across the country
* Aged Care Association calls on government to take it seriously
* Elderly nursing shortage in Southland ‘a serious situation’
Massive staffing shortages have led to the closure of 1,000 elderly care beds by providers who cannot guarantee patient safety.
Cooper said his concerns were based on complaints received by the Health and Disability Commission about elderly care and conversations with elderly people, aged care providers and industry agencies.
She understood that Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand was considering a ‘national workforce strategy’ but said she was unaware of a specific strategy for elderly care and support to hope.
Closing the beds was the right thing to do rather than risking patient safety, Cooper said.
Complaints about aged care facilities to the Health and Disability Commissioner have fallen from 99 from January 1 to August 3, 2021 to 115 in the same period this year.
Although this represents a significant increase (a 16% increase), Cooper said many seniors would not complain at all and many would direct their concerns to their provider.
Complaint information was currently spread across several agencies, so she would consolidate it to ensure there was a solid follow-up to “what is happening to older people” in the coming months.
“We must ensure that older people are supported and continue to receive the support they need in their daily lives. Their rights under the Health and Disability Services Consumer Rights Code apply despite these current challenges.
Seniors needed to have care options at home and in aged care facilities for their well-being and for the optimal functioning of the health care system as a whole, Cooper said.
“In aged care facilities…it is essential that there are enough staff with the skills and expertise to keep vulnerable people safe and respond to their deteriorating conditions.”
The recent Omicron Covid-19 surge put older people at greater risk, with very high numbers of cases and deaths, Cooper said.
She wanted aged care staff to be paid the same as their colleagues in the public hospital system, a better ‘in-house’ training strategy and better access for internationally trained nurses through the settings of immigration.
Age Concern Canterbury chief executive Simon Templeton said earlier this month that staff were getting more calls from anxious family members concerned about a lower level of care for their loved ones.
Concerns included family members not receiving basic personal care such as showering and dressing, or receiving it very late in the day, and a lack of social contact, especially when a facility had cases. Covid-19 assets and was closed to visitors, Templeton said.
Residential care providers for the elderly are required to notify the Department of Health of any shifts where the lack of registered nurses has caused a risk to the health and safety of residents.
Providers across the country have sent around 1,500 “Section 31” safety notifications to the Chief Health Officer so far this year, Aged Care Association of New Zealand chief executive Simon Wallace said.
In 2021, around 800 notifications were sent for the whole year.