'They have no bloody idea': Nursing call centre slammed

Mosgiel couple Mike and Marjorie Beath share their frustrations about issues with the district nursing system. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Mosgiel couple Mike and Marjorie Beath share their frustrations about issues with the district nursing system. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Without the district nursing system, Mike and Marjorie Beath literally cannot live their lives.

However, recent disruptions to the service mean the Mosgiel couple have sometimes been left stranded without the help they need.

For 16 years Mrs Beath has lived with multiple sclerosis, a condition which means the 77-year-old now needs help to get in and out of bed.

''I'm very lucky that I don't have a lot of pain with it - because of a lot of people do,'' she said.

Two nurses are meant to come to the Beaths' home four times a day to get Mrs Beath into and then out of bed - a job her 77-year-old husband cannot do by himself.

The service they received had been perfect for years, they told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

However, in recent months they had had constant problems with the RDNS New Zealand Auckland-based call centre, and have had intermittent issues with nurses either coming late or - occasionally - not turning up at all.

''Their phone system, they may as well have got it at Toyworld,'' Mr Beath said.

''It's not uncommon to sit there for 20-30 minutes to try and get somebody in Auckland.''

The carers themselves were usually excellent, but they could often get delayed or waylaid, the Beaths said.

''They'll ring if they think about it or have time ... but because you are dealing with Auckland, they have no bloody idea where things are,'' Mr Beath said.

The Beaths had also been told of carers being given assignments which were a 90-minute drive away, organised in a timetable built around 20 minutes' travel between jobs.

''One woman was told she had two jobs just down the road - just down the road was Invercargill,'' Mr Beath said.

Confirming carers for the next day could sometimes be a problem.

''On Sunday at 4pm they had nobody to come in here on Monday,'' Mr Beath said.

''I'm a voice for Marjorie and myself, but we know four other people who are on their own.''

RDNS New Zealand chief executive Carmel Conaghan said the service had issues implementing a new client management and phone systems.

''These have been investigated and progressively resolved with the scheduling system now operating as expected and improved response times into our call centre,'' she said.

''We continue to monitor the performance of both systems and we have been notifying our clients with our local team continuing to respond to individual inquiries.''

RDNS tried to deliver support with ''minimal disruption'' and said it tried to let clients know at the earliest opportunity of possible lateness or absence, she said.

''In serving more remote areas our team members may be asked to travel longer distances to meet client needs, by exception.

''We actively manage in between travel time within the region.''

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

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