Fund launched to help Kiwi families facing elderly abuse

A new fund has been launched to help families cover the cost of taking an elder abuse claim against retirement homes.

The idea was inspired by the neglect of a woman by staff at her rest home in Cambridge and it's hoped the money will assist other families in the same situation.

Freda Love was living out her golden years, but the months before she died were more like a living hell. Robert Love found his mother soaked in urine at her Cambridge rest home.

"There were just so many problems and I would remunerate these to management through letters but they wouldn't respond," he told Newshub.

His mother was unable to reach her call button, and often overheated in her room.

His complaints went unanswered.

"What was more distressing was that when I reached out for assistance I couldn't find any," Mr Love said.

Eventually he did find help through the disputes tribunal and was awarded $10,000 for his mother's neglect.

That money now being used to start a new fund named after Freda, with the help of Consumer New Zealand. Its purpose is to help others pay for similar claims.

Consumer New Zealand spokesperson Jessica Wilson says the tribunal can hear claims up to $15,000.

"The cost to file a claim for that amount is $180 and that's what the Freda Love fund has been set up to fund," she said.

Ms Love's case wasn't the first to make headlines. Last year footage emerged of elderly man Piri Hemi being assaulted in his Hamilton retirement home.

The worker responsible was sacked and charged with common assault.

Ministry of Health figures show 80 complaints have been made this year against rest homes for things ranging from care concerns and abuse, to food management.

Thirty-five complaints were substantiated, but none of abuse.

The aged care association is supportive of the fund, but says it thinks the current complaint system works.

Rob Love says part is problem is families often don't know how to navigate the disputes process.

"If somebody is floundering as I was then this fund will provide that opportunity for assistance," he said.