Palm’s Lifecare investigation results

Findings from an investigation into Palm’s Lifecare Pukekohe, have confirmed that maggots were found crawling in an elderly man’s wound at the rest home.

After the man’s family complained, saying their terminally-ill relative was often left covered in flies and had maggots crawling in open wounds, Counties Manakau District Health Board launched an investigation in March. Results of the investigation include shortcomings in providing pain relief, presence of maggots in wound, anecdotal evidence of faecal soiling in the man’s room and issues with managing falls.

A District Health Board spokesperson said “the recent incident involving a resident at Palms Lifecare Pukekohe was serious and we extend our thoughts to the family.”

The Health Board is now working with the rest home and said it was confident recommended changes are being made. Asked if residents were safe, the spokesperson said they were.

Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal the rest home was subject to another investigation in August last year after a complaint. Investigators could find no evidence of care plans to evaluate skin tears suffered by residents and ‘sheets were bloodstained overnight, due to skin tear.’ Continence assessments weren’t carried out often enough and there was a lack of activities for residents, with a staffer telling the complainant she had ‘too much paperwork to undertake the activity programme.’

David Renwick, executive chairman of Heritage Lifecare, said they’d met several times with the family whose complaint caused the March investigation. A formal apology had been given. Asked whether the wound care failing was the result of staffing levels or a lack of training, David said it wasn’t, “however we acknowledge that this problem should’ve been identified and remedied earlier.” David said Palms residents were well cared for and a corrective action plan developed by the company was being implemented, with District Health Board oversight.

Jessica Wilson, Consumer NZ’s head of research, said the Palms case showed the auditing system wasn’t good enough. This meant residents could be left to suffer unless a complaint was acted upon. The last published audit report for Palms Lifecare was in June 2017, with no shortfalls identified. “These basic failures in care should be picked up. It shouldn’t rely on family members having to go through the process of making a complaint,” Wilson said.

Photo: Eldernet

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