Health and Disability Commission closely monitors home care providers


The Committee on Health and Disability is concerned that some of the most vulnerable in society are not receiving appropriate service.  Photo file.  (File photo)

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The Committee on Health and Disability is concerned that some of the most vulnerable in society are not receiving appropriate service. Photo file. (File photo)

A health and disability watchdog is monitoring a provider on a “worrying increase in complaints” in 2020.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall said she was concerned about the number of complaints against HealthCare NZ “over a relatively short period of time.”

Healthcare NZ is a private company that receives government contracts to provide home and community support services.

Between October 23 and September 23, the Health and Disability Commission received seven complaints about the provider. Clients said support workers did not show up, workers did not follow the care plan, and clients were unable to reach the provider.

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ROSS GIBLIN / STUFF

John Landreth was left paralyzed in an accident and needs 24/7 home care. He had many issues with his former caregiver, such as staff not showing up, being left on their own, and having difficulty contacting the company with their concerns.

A 2019 surveillance audit, issued under the Official Information Act, found that the provider’s complaint processes were not fully adequate, that customer support services were stopping when they were not. should not be and that referrals for care were not being processed in a timely manner. .

A 2020 supplier audit was delayed due to Covid-19 and was underway.

In September, Wall raised these concerns with the Department of Health, including the Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, VAC, and district health boards that had contracts with HealthCare NZ.

In March 2021, MidCentral DHB funded 1345 home and community support clients of HealthCare NZ.

The 2020 protest in Palmerston North against HealthCare NZ's proposal to cut 200 jobs nationwide and centralize services instead in Auckland.  (File photo)

MURRAY WILSON / stuff / stuff

The 2020 protest in Palmerston North against HealthCare NZ’s proposal to cut 200 jobs nationwide and centralize services instead in Auckland. (File photo)

Wall thought some progress had been made, but “I remain concerned that the same problems are happening again.”

“Consumers have a right to services of an appropriate level,” she said. “I was particularly concerned in light of the vulnerable consumer groups who depend on these community support services. “

Healthcare NZ grabbed the headlines during a restructuring in 2020. Despite protests, 100 regional administrator and coordinator positions were cut.

This month, the supplier announced a new restructuring, which could cut an additional 59 jobs.

Josephine Gagan, acting chief executive of HealthCare NZ, said the 2020 restructuring was an effort to improve the very systems these complaints considered. It was also a response to the underfunding of the sector, which remained a problem for the supplier.

Gagan said all complaints to the health and disability commissioner have been investigated and closed. “None of the complaints were judged in violation of the Rights Code.”

The issues with care packages having an incorrect end date were resolved the same day the team was notified, Gagan said, and the complaint and referral process was now on a daily basis, so people wouldn’t have not fallen through the cracks.

“We are well below the threshold required for HDC or internal complaints,” she said.

In June, a HealthCare NZ audit project raised two high-risk findings, including a client who spent a night in his driveway following a fall and a client who died of sepsis.

Gagan declined to comment on the details due to privacy concerns, but said the drop was “in no way related to shortcomings in our service delivery.”

In the case of the deceased client, Gagan said the client turned down several offers of emergency care and hospitalization.

Spokesmen for the Department of Health and the MidCentral District Health Board said the results were still being evaluated and a timeline would be set for HealthCare NZ to implement an improvement plan.

HealthCare NZ is part of the New Zealand Health Grou ‘, the country’s largest network of healthcare providers. The group also owns Geneva Healthcare, a brand of medical alarms, and their staff training program, My Skill.


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