New Zealand needs to make some noise around aged care

Opinion 19/06/2018
Photo: File.

By Corina, RadioLIVE listener

In March, Corina called Mark Sainsbury to share how the Palms Lifecare rest home treated her father. Her story prompted three consecutive days of calls, texts and emails into RadioLIVE’s Morning Talk show of others sharing their story.

Corina reflects on the experience:

OPINION: When no one else would listen and we were so desperate, I contacted Mark Sainsbury from RadioLive. Mark Sainsbury and his team assisted us in getting our concerns public so Dad would receive care and pain relief. Time was not our friend at this point. We were so desperate to improve things for Dad and it needed to happen quickly.

However, sadly it was too late. Dad passed away that night. And you know what haunts me? I don’t know if he was pain free or aware he was passing in that last moment in time.

It drew the public's attention to the issue and hopefully some actions that will ensure that in any Aged Care facility no one will suffer as my Dad did.

They do not deserve to be in fear of needing aged care.

We learned a lot, but also learned that we trusted people we shouldn’t have. Each process uncovered more and more failures. For Dad personally regarding his care… It was just incomprehensible. How could so much go wrong to one person, by so many people? I still struggle to process this.

Those who reached out to us wanting to help all brought a different perspective to what was going on, or they opened doors that were previously invisible to us.

Throughout this process was the involvement of NZ Herald journalist Nick Jones took an interest in Dad’s story, by asking questions from people I had no way to contact. He uncovered untruths and was able to link us up with the right people - the Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB).

Many of them have lead simple lives, worked hard, raised their kids and paid their taxes.

I feel it’s important to acknowledge the job CMDHB Team and the MOE representative are doing. They are people just like you and me; and Dad’s story affected them too.

We need to be aware of their constraints. There is no endless budget for resources so the work they are doing on this matter is really valued.

Presently the CMDHB are actively monitoring the Palms and this will be on-going for some time. They are great in giving us regular updates.

I think I would be naive to think this would never happen again to someone else. New Zealand has a long way to go in caring for its elderly.

We all need to make noise. We need to make good positive noise about the reality of aged care, the way it is currently monitored, and the changes that need to happen. We need to band together and insist it is not acceptable.

These people are precious. Many of them have lead simple lives, worked hard, raised their kids and paid their taxes. They do not deserve to be in fear of needing aged care, or fear that they won’t be treated with dignity and respect.

Yes, some of them are cranky, and at times not appreciating the efforts of the good carers.

But you know one day we will all be there, in that position. What would we expect? How would we want to be treated?

Corina is a RadioLIVE listener. She encourages those who want to make some noise to sign Mark Sainsbury's petition here