3 Sep 2019

Nurse Maude in-home carers 'sporadic', 'worked to the bone'

4:51 pm on 3 September 2019

More complaints are coming in about the poor treatment of Wellington in-home care clients.

Photo of elderly man on wheelchair and his private carer

Photo: 123RF

In April, two providers - Access Community Health and Nurse Maude - jointly took over the contracts for the Wellington region. Since then, people have complained about long waits for showers and having to deal with an every-changing group of carers.

Jo Blyth told RNZ last week her 84-year-old mum, had waited up to five hours - or even sometimes all day - for an early morning shower from a Nurse Maude carer.

Other clients in the region have contacted RNZ to echo her frustrations.

Brigid van der Tol's mother is in a block of flats in Wellington and struggled to get around after a stroke.

She said her mum needed care three times a day - but the help was sporadic.

"Sometimes that care comes within four hours of the day - so the first one can come at 11am and the second one can come at 12pm and the third one comes to put her to bed at 3pm - or alternatively no one can turn up," she said.

She said the carers that turned up were stressed and worked to the bone - and her mum would prefer some consistency.

"To at least have two or three people who she knows and trusts - and she's happy to have them come and go," she said.

One 88-year-old woman said she'd had enough of the mucking around, and told Nurse Maude a month ago she did not want their service anymore.

"The lady rang to say she'd be here at 10am and she turned up after 1pm - and then I started sending letters to the Hutt Valley District Health Board - and I got told it had been passed on to the manager of the area and I didn't hear anything about it," she said.

"Can you imagine a person making up a wrong bed that had already been made up for visitors ... that just didn't get me so I said 'I didn't want her back again'," she said.

She said she had since asked a friend to help out with the household cleaning, but was hopeful of transferring to Access Community Health after communicating with her local MP Chris Hipkins.

Sandra Craigie - whose 89-year-old husband is bed-ridden as a paraplegic - said she was lucky to have a Nurse Maude carer dedicated to him but when she was away it was utter chaos.

"If my carer is not able to come - she's on leave or something else crops up - we might or might not get another carer, we've got no idea what time that carer might arrive," she said.

Kate - who was a care worker in Hawke's Bay, with Access - said a restructure in that region produced the same outcome as Wellington.

"The clients for whom I was doing personal cares - that is helping with their showers or baths - I don't think it was very nice for them to have to undress in front of a different person at random intervals," she said.

She decided to retire once she reached 65 because the job was not like it used to be.

Other carers who emailed RNZ said there had been multiple support workers who quit or transferred elsewhere, and Nurse Maude effectively made it impossible for them to have regular clients.

In a statement, Nurse Maude said it had worked hard to recruit and train additional staff.

"While this has eased pressures considerably, it is not easy to attract people to the sector and we acknowledge there are pockets within Wellington where staffing challenges remain."

The statement said it was difficult to put the same carers with clients.

"It's unfortunate that while some clients may have expectations of continuous care from a single support worker, we have to deal with the realities of sickness, annual leave and other reasons for support worker non-availability."

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