The residential aged care sector says the inquiry into aged care led by the Opposition parties feels like an “attack” on their sector.

Labour, the Greens and Grey Power have launched an investigation into the state of aged care in New Zealand, which will help set the aged care agenda for a Labour-Greens government.

However, the New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) says it sounds like the parties have already decided the inquiry outcome.

The Opposition parties and Grey Power held a similar investigation seven years ago, which concluded that New Zealand’s aged care sector was in “desperate need of a revolution”. The 2010 inquiry raised 14 key recommendations, including a star rating system of aged care facilities and replacing telephone assessments for home support services with face-to-face meetings. The Opposition parties claim that the Government has followed up on very few of their recommendations and that problems with quality and consistency of home support services and aged residential care persist.

However, NZACA chief executive Simon Wallace disagrees.

“In fact, many of the recommendations have been acted on,” he says, pointing out specific examples where the sector has made progress on recommendations concerning training, auditing, staffing and other areas.

“With a General Election set for 23 September, we can only assume the inquiry is politically motivated and our sector is being caught in the cross-fire!”

“Our sector is committed to delivering outstanding quality care for the elderly in New Zealand.  We welcome any inquiry or initiative that works constructively with our sector to improve conditions for aged care workers and residents. But we will vigorously oppose an unfair and ill-conceived attack on our sector,” says Wallace.

The investigation kicked off last week in Takaka, with more public meetings to follow over the next two months. The MPs hope to hear from older people receiving care at home or in a rest home and their families. They also want to engage with aged care providers and their employees. The NZACA is encouraging its members to attend the meetings to “set the record straight”.

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