Age Care

When you can no longer manage in your own home, you can move into a rest home or hospital. Your doctor, other health professionals, or family often help you decide where to move to and when.


Who can move into residential care
There are 2 main groups of people who move into residential care:

  • people aged 65 and older who can no longer manage in their own homes — some people call this ‘aged care’
  • people aged between 50 and 64 who have a disability or illness which means they need 24-hour care

If you’re under 50 and have major health or disability problems, in some circumstances you may be able to move into residential care. Talk to your doctor or healthcare team for further advice.


Steps to moving into residential care
You need to make decisions about:

  • the kind of care and services you need
  • which rest home or hospital you would prefer to live in
  • how you’ll pay for it.


The first step is to get a needs assessment
Through your local District Health Board (DHB) to work out what level of care you need. You don’t have to do this, but if you don’t you:

  • can’t apply for financial help from the government
  • may have to pay more than the weekly amount set by the government for residential care in your region
  • can have difficulty finding a place in a rest home — many homes won’t let you move in unless you’ve had a needs assessment first.


Types of residential care:
There are 4 types of full-time residential care. Providers sometimes offer more than one type of care within the same property.

  • Rest homes — care for older people who can manage some daily tasks, but need help with personal care and who would find it difficult to live safely in their own homes.
  • Long-stay hospitals — care for people who have significant medical problems or disability. They need healthcare from registered nurses and support from others to move about.
  • Dementia units — care for people suffering from dementia or other mental illnesses, and who could be a risk to themselves or others.
  • Psycho-geriatric units — are secure, and care for people who have difficult behavioural problems, including severe dementia or addictions, and need a high level of specialist nursing care.


Their services:
The services offered by residential care providers vary from one to another. They must tell you about the services they offer and be clear about which ones you pay extra for.


They must provide:

  • visits from a General Practitioner (GP) — this is usually a doctor they appoint to look after you
  • medicines that are prescribed for you by your GP — but only those subsidised by the government agency, Pharmac
  • nursing care – this includes having a registered nurse available to oversee your care, and also staff training and medical matters
  • dressings, continence supplies or other products used in your treatment
  • transport for medical or health reasons, eg to an appointment at a public hospital
  • someone to accompany you to health appointments if your family or friends aren’t able to.


They must provide:

  • accommodation that is suitable for older people — it must be comfortable, safe, offer privacy and support your wellbeing
  • a garden or safe outdoor space that has sheltered seating and is easy to get to.


Occupational Right Agreements or Licence to occupy
Residential care and retirement villages are different — but some villages do offer care in serviced apartments. You pay a lump sum to live in the apartment or care suite. This is called an Occupation Right Agreement or sometimes a Licence to Occupy.
If you are getting rest home care in an apartment you pay a weekly fee for services. You or those close to you may need legal advice, as your Admission Agreement needs be amended so you’re not paying twice for services.
If you need a level of care higher than rest home you may have to move because not all Occupation Right Agreement apartments provide hospital-level or dementia-level care.


They must provide:

  • healthy meals and snacks — as much as possible they should take account of your personal tastes, and medical or cultural needs
  • laundry and cleaning services
  • equipment that helps you get around, such as wheelchairs or walking frames
  • clinical or other equipment that helps with your personal care — this ranges from thermometers to a stethoscope, hospital beds to handrails
  • some recreational activities
  • radio, television and mail services.


Pay for extra services
The admission agreement you sign with a rest home or hospital lists any extra services that you’ve agreed to pay for and how much they cost.
The services can include:

  • a premium room, eg one with an ensuite bathroom
  • medicine or vitamins not prescribed by a doctor
  • specialists or other healthcare not publicly funded through the DHB, eg x-rays
  • glasses, hearing aids and dental care
  • personal items and services, eg magazines or hairdressing
  • clothing and dry cleaning
  • personal mobility aids, eg your own wheelchair or mobility scooter
  • insurance of your personal belongings
  • leisure costs, eg tickets to shows or club memberships
  • telephone, internet or pay-to-view TV services.


Making a complaint:
There are different steps to take depending on your complaint, but tell the manager of the rest home or hospital first — they may be able to fix the problem.
Steps to making a complaint:
1. Check your Admission Agreement to find out the complaints process for your rest home or hospital.
2. Set up a meeting with, or write to the manager to discuss your complaint. You can ask a health advocate to help you — they are there to give you information about your rights and the options open to you. They also support you to take the action you choose.
3. If your complaint still hasn’t been resolved, contact the owner or provider of your rest home — the contact information should be in your Admission Agreement.


Complaining about care
If you’re concerned about the quality of your care, contact the Health and Disability Commissioner.
0800 112233

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