Hawke’s Bay District Health Board says people needing to be in an aged residential care facility usually wait only a matter of days for a bed, if they need that level of care.
Chief medical and dental officer Dr John Gommans said a report released by the New Zealand Aged Care Association was written by a lobby group, and did not provide the full picture. The report ignores access to services that allow older people to remain at home if they prefer that option.
Dr Gommans said in Hawke’s Bay the focus and investment had been to help older people stay independent in their own homes for longer, with wrap-around care to support them and their families in that decision.
“We have worked very hard to provide a wide range of community based care and services that work with older people who choose to stay in their own homes. Many people don’t want to be in an aged residential care facility, if there are alternative options. Our focus has been on supporting those people or their families with that decision to remain in their own home until it’s the right time for them to move.”
Dr Gommans said the district health board had only received the report on Wednesday night, so had not had an opportunity to fully review the data used, but the report failed to acknowledge that assessments for care did not only determine possible suitability to residential care, but also for access to increased home support services.
“No-one who needs to be in an aged residential care facility in Hawke’s Bay is denied a bed, and neither do they wait in a queue.
“There are usually beds available in aged residential care facilities in Hawke’s Bay but we don’t force people into them – it’s every person’s choice”.
Dr Gommans said programmes, such as engAGE delivered by the district health board or Enliven delivered by Presbyterian Support Services East Coast, helped older people remain in their own homes, and were what older people had asked for.
“While aged residential care facilities provide a good service when it’s needed, we would always want our older people to have a choice and be supported in that choice.”
The district health board was in daily contact with rest homes. As at 9am this morning, (12 April), half of the 26 facilities in Hawke’s Bay, that offered rest home level of care, had vacancies.