Auckland rest home reprimanded for not providing adequate care to dying patient

Auckland rest home reprimanded for not providing adequate care to dying patient
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The Health and Disability Commissioner has reprimanded a South Auckland rest home after a report found it failed to provide "basic" palliative care to a resident in his dying months.

Heritage Lifecare Trust and one of its staff was found to be in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights for not giving an 86-year-old resident adequate care.

The unnamed elderly man was admitted to Palms Lifecare - which is owned by Heritage Lifecare Trust - in Pukekohe with wounds on his legs and required hospital-level care.

On March 7, 2018, the man's daughter Corina contacted Newshub to share her claims of elderly abuse at the rest home.

She says she found faeces scattered throughout her father's room, blood in his eye and maggots in his feet. He later died on March 9, 2018.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall says his care at the rest home was "unacceptable".

"He suffered unnecessarily in his last months. His family had stressed to staff their wish that he be comfortable in his final days," Wall said in a statement.

"[He] should not have had to rely on his family to advocate on his behalf for such a fundamental component of his end-of-life care."

The report found his dressings weren't changed frequently, he reported pain during dressing changes and he had three falls. He also became increasingly unwell which caused him to lose weight - something that was not monitored by staff.

Furthermore, GP and podiatrist visits were delayed, causing his family to raise concerns about his deteriorating condition. They made a formal complaint, but there was "no review or adequate response" by Palms Lifecare's senior staff.

Corina told Newshub in 2018 that despite complaining to the rest home, nothing was done and the "inhumane" conditions continued. She added that workers just "smile at you, nod and walk away".

Wall says the man's case highlights the need to ensure that palliative care meets each person's end-of-life needs.

She adds that the number of failings by the rest home and its personnel points to a workplace environment that didn't sufficiently help staff do their job, and Palms Lifecare was in breach of the Code.

It was also found that the rest home's clinical services manager didn't provide enough oversight of the nursing documentation and care planning, and Wall was concerned that she didn't comply with the complaints policy. The manager was then also found to be in breach of the Code.

Wall recommends that the Nursing Council of New Zealand carries out a competence review of the manager, and that she apologises to the man's family.

She further recommends that the rest home reports back to HDC with an action plan developed in light of this case, an audit on their palliative care policies is carried out, the report released on Monday is used for staff training and learning, and a formal written apology is sent to the man's family.