19 Dec 2019

Family of mother with dementia furious over care home's assessment

12:16 pm on 19 December 2019

The family of a woman with dementia are furious her care home arranged an assessment for her without them knowing and then said she had two weeks to move out.

Nurse putting hand on elderly woman's shoulder

Photo: 123RF

Isobel Grieve was a resident at Aria Bay care home in Auckland for two-and-a-half years.

On 25 October her son, John Grieve, was sent an email from the clinical leader at Aria Bay advising his mother's needs had increased and she needed an assessment to determine if she should be moved to a dementia unit.

The email said: "As you are aware these assessments take a few weeks or even a month before we can actually get the date and time of the appointment."

On 28 October, it was agreed Grieve would be advised as early as possible when that date would be, so he could be present as he had been for all his mother's previous assessments. He also advised his brother from Blenheim would be flying up for it too.

But no notice was given.

"On October the 31st the assessment was completed and we were informed [later that day], after the assessment had been done, that mum had now been assessed as dementia and we were informed that she would have two weeks to get out of Aria Bay," Grieve said.

"So as you can imagine, that came as a complete shock to us as a family. I've got one brother and two sisters and we're very tight, we talk about my mother most days... So it came as a bit of sideswipe to us really."

A spokesperson for Arvida, the company that owns Aria Bay, denied the family had been left out of the loop.

They said those emails on 25 and 31 October made it clear an assessment was taking place.

They did not clarify if a power of attorney was required to give consent for an assessment, however, the spokesperson said Grieve technically was not power of attorney because he did not activate it until 20 November.

Grieve said that was disingenuous because he had been his mother's power of attorney for four years, and it allowed him to put her into care in the first place.

"They cannot use the fact that the [power of attorney] wasn't activated as this was the first I had heard of this and if necessary why wasn't I informed in the past when I had been using it?"

He said the way everything had been handled was shocking.

"It was all done in a matter of one day and we were expecting to go along with a real person, a needs assessor from the DHB, and for me, and my eldest sister who's always been included in the needs assessments as well and have a month or six weeks to get prepared for what might come around.

"Not just the next day to have mum basically out on the streets and have two weeks to find a bed."

The assessment is known as the interRAI. The Arvida spokesperson said it was a comprehensive and required tool, used to evaluate residents every six months or as their needs changed.

In the email to Grieve on 31 October, Aria Bay advised an independent needs assessor had looked over the interRAI results and decided moving to a dementia unit was appropriate.

Grieve said it was amazing a call like that could be made by someone with no face-to-face time with his mother.

The Arvida spokesperson said it was standard practice for an electronic assessment to be made on the basis of the interRAI.

He and his siblings requested a second opinion, by a 'real person' which resulted in the same outcome.

Dementia Auckland team leader Rhonda Preston-Jones said while she could not talk to the specifics of this case, communication and trust breakdowns were always disappointing.

"They care immensely for the family member with the dementia, they want to be involved with their loved one and so communication between a care facility and family is really important and if it doesn't happen people feel very bruised and hurt and upset."

Grieve said the family managed to push the care home out to 28 days before his mother had to move and they found an appropriate unit.

He was disappointed he never received an apology from Aria Bay.

Arvida maintained it acted appropriately and said during his mother's time with them, the family had complimented them on the wonderful care and support received.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs