26 Sep 2012

Ministry defends decision to continue rest home licence

7:33 pm on 26 September 2012

The Ministry of Health is defending its decision to re-issue a licence to a Canterbury rest home despite a previous audit finding cases among its residents of scabies, dehydration, poor wound care and lack of pain management.

Eleven formal complaints had been made about Wiltshire Rest Home in Rangiora but it was issued a licence to operate for another two years because the Canterbury District Health Board has taken over its operations.

The ministry says the certification was based on improvements at the rest home that were observed by the DHB.

Previously, the DHB found that among the 57 residents, many suffered from dehydration and unmanaged weight loss, poor wound care, pressure sores, lack of pain management and a lack of basic care with hygiene and incontinence.

There were two confirmed cases of scabies amongst residents.

The district health board also said the facility was dimly lit, was heated below recommended levels and staff morale was low.

But the ministry says the rest home will be visited twice more in the next two years, with one audit announced.

The Health and Disability Commissioner is investigating several of the complaints.

Closing could cause more harm - DHB

The board says closing the home might do more harm than good for the residents.

Chief medical officer Nigel Millar says no decision has been made about when it might be handed back to its operators.

Dr Millar says if the facility were to be closed, the residents would lose their home.

"When you find an institution that's running into major difficulties, it's very tempting to say just let's close it down, but of course if we do that, then the people who live there, as well as experiencing what we thought was inadequate care, they also lose their home."

He says Wiltshire was failing to comply with aged-care legislation.

Problems fixed - lawyer

The lawyer for the home's owners, Paul and Margaret Busby, says his clients have learnt from the past and problems have been fixed.

Hamish Grant told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme the Busbys are committed to ensuring the home's level of care is top quality.