Some rest-homes to be monitered

The Otago and Southland district health boards will monitor rest-homes which may be struggling with lower occupancy rates, planning and funding regional general manager David Chrisp told the disability support advisory committee yesterday.

Mr Chrisp told yesterday's meeting, in Invercargill, that efforts to save money on elder support had led to lower rest-home occupancy.

The fact fewer referrals had not put rest-homes out of business was evidence the sector could adapt and cope with change, Mr Chrisp said.

Figures presented at the meeting revealed that on February 10, Otago and Southland rest-homes had a combined capacity of 85% and 87% respectively.

One Otago facility had occupancy between 51% and 55%, and a facility in Otago and in Southland had occupancy between 61% and 65%.

A process was being put in place to monitor rest-homes with low occupancy.

Management had a good relationship with the rest-home sector, and met it regularly, he said.

Low occupancy rates did not necessarily indicate a problem with safety or quality.

Residency snapshots could be misleading, especially for small facilities, where tiny fluctuations could result in big percentage changes, he said.

Committee member Peter Barron said it was important for management to have good communication with rest-homes that might be struggling.

He wanted more detail about changes to total capacity in aged care beds since the ODHB started its push for fewer referrals about three years ago, and requested the detail from management.

A review of elder health from 2007, which was not presented to the meeting, reveals that in September, 2007, there were 170 more rest-home beds, and 103 fewer hospital beds, in Otago and Southland.

Mr Barron reiterated concerns about the potential risk the boards carried from unused capacity in the rest-home sector.


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