Recruitment for an Aged Care Commissioner will start next month as almost a fifth of complaints to the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) in the past year have come from consumers over 65.
The new role will sit within the Health and Disability Commissioner’s office and ensure greater oversight of the aged care sector, Seniors Minister and Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said.
The Aged Care Commissioner will be in place in the next six months, Verrall said.
Health and Disability Commissioner Morag McDowell says an Aged Care Commissioner “is an excellent opportunity to elevate our work to promote and protect the rights of people receiving aged care services”.
The recruitment for the role comes after about 18 per cent of complaints to HDC in the year ending 30 June 2021 involved consumers of services who are over 65. The complaints are often made by family members.
In the previous year, a total of 259 complaints relating to aged residential care and 147 complaints about home care were received by HDC and the Advocacy Service.
There were 26 formal investigations relating to aged residential care facilities in 2020/21, around a fifth of all investigations closed in the past year. In 24 of these cases a breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights was found.
Inadequate care and treatment issues were also among the most common concerns raised, Verrall said.
Aged care services are more than aged residential care and can include needs assessment, rehabilitation, home and community support services.
Verrall said it was vital to improve the aged care system as New Zealand’s population ages.
“We need to make sure older New Zealanders experience consistent, quality care that’s culturally appropriate for everyone, particularly our Māori and Pacific communities,” she said.
“It is projected that by 2034 there will be 1.2 million people in New Zealand aged 65 and over. Although many older people are living healthier for longer, demand for aged care services is also expected to increase.
“The Aged Care Commissioner will be critical to improving the aged care system for the wellbeing of those reliant on this help, and those closest to them.”