PETER MATHYSSEN, owner and manager of Glenbrook Rest Home, gives his views on the interRAI debate between Victoria Brown and Martin Taylor, featured in the last issue of INsite.

I’d like to comment on Victoria Brown’s interRAI article and Martin Taylor’s response to it. I am on Victoria’s side on this.

Firstly, and importantly, I’d like Martin Taylor to name the 30 countries where interRAI is being used, presumably in the same way as it is proposed to be used in New Zealand.

If interRAI is really used in 30 countries, could one not reasonably expect that teething and implementation problems/issues would have been resolved by now? Why still all the drama and requirement for days and days of training? It does not sound like a particularly user friendly tool.

Basic questions on InterRAI have been asked on several occasions, but to date have not been answered, neither by MoH/DHB or NZACA, which is a co-sponsor of the interRAI project.

For instance:

  1. What consultation with providers, if any, was done prior to the introduction of interRAI?
  2. Rumour has it that some interRAI trials were done. Where are the results?
  3. What evidence exists that current resident assessment and care practices are improper and how will they improve as a result of interRAI?
  4. What commitment has the Government made to fund the system beyond the four year roll-out? For instance: at whose cost will the government supplied dedicated interRAI laptop be replaced at the end of its life?
  5. What training and IT support will be available beyond the four year roll-out?
  6. Will NZNO include interRAI as part of its general nursing curriculum, now that interRAI has been made compulsory?
  7. If interRAI remains “RN only”, what contingency plans have been made so that a facility which cannot find an interRAI trained RN can have data entered?
  8. Australia looked at using interRAI but backed away from it. In what way is the New Zealand aged care sector different from Australia for interRAI to be deemed appropriate here, but not over there?
  9. Who has access to and who is responsible for the interRAI data?

Plenty of questions, but no answers. Government and DHBs insist the aged care sector employs open disclosure policies, but seem unwilling to practice what they preach. It is becoming evident that interRAI is nothing but a data collection tool for government and DHBs, forced onto a chronically underfunded aged care sector. The already abominable caregiver pay rates will be further eroded, smaller facilities pushed closer to the brink and care for our elderly will suffer. No smooth talking politician, DHB representative or association CEO can gloss this over, no matter how hard they try.

Martin Taylor’s comment that, “It is also unreasonable to expect a roll-out such as this to have answered every question before we begin or even to know every issue that may crop up along the way” is particularly unsettling. They still don’t know the answers after having interRAI employed in 30 countries?

Aged care providers look after vulnerable members of our society. Audits need to be passed and standards adhered to. When an aged care facility opens a new wing, an audit is done beforehand to ensure all systems are in place. Can we not expect the same diligence when it comes to government/DHB/NZACA implementing a new, supposedly used-all-over-the-world, assessment tool?

Come on, get real. Government/DHB/NZACA should act cooperatively, not in an underhanded way, trying to sell something that is not wanted or needed.


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