No systemic problem with aged care - industry body

Geriatric rest homes are not facing widespread problems in the health care they deliver, says the body which represents most rest homes in New Zealand.

A temporary manager was appointed to another Auckland rest home today but HealthCare Providers NZ said that did not mean a systemic problem existed in aged care in New Zealand.

The Waitemata District Health Board appointed a manager to look after the day-to-day running of the Birkenhead Lodge resthome on Auckland's North Shore.

However, HealthCare Providers, which represented 80 percent of New Zealand's aged residential care sector, said the troubles of four rest homes had been highlighted by the media.

"But there is no evidence to support any allegations of a systemic problem in the quality of care in the country's other 753 aged care facilities," said chief executive Martin Taylor.

"One case of elder abuse is always one case too many. It is always distressing to hear about poor quality care on our most vulnerable in the community - the elderly."

He said Age Concern's report last October recorded only 21 cases of elder abuse in rest homes in the 2005-2006 year.

"This clearly showed that the aged residential care sector is doing well, especially considering that over the same period more than 80,000 elderly New Zealanders received care in a rest home, hospital or dementia unit.

"There is no evidence of a widespread problem with the quality of care in New Zealand, but we must remain vigilant," he said.

The health board said temporary manager Rik Walstra would help the owners of Birkenhead Lodge to rectify concerns the board had over the management of the home and the quality of care and treatment provided to residents.

The 69-bed Birkenhead Lodge had 35 residents.

Earlier this month Auckland rest home Belhaven had a temporary manager appointed and was then closed after a resident was photographed with her mouth taped shut because she was too noisy.

During the week several rest homes were put under statutory management because of safety concerns, including a patient being left without oxygen for several hours in a Feilding rest home.

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