In a recent opinion, the Health and Disability Commissioner highlighted the importance of talking to residents and their families about their expectations with regards to communication stating that: "There needs to be a shared understanding and agreement between the resident, his or her family, and the facility about the circumstances in which family will be contacted, and the reason for this".
In this case, an 87 year old woman was admitted to a rest home for respite care. During her stay, she had four falls, and did not receive her regular dose of lorazepam one weekend because her supply had been exhausted. Among other things, the Commissioner found that rest home's communication with the resident's family was inadequate, including with regards to her falls, medication management, and care plan. While noting that the family had no legal entitlement to information about the resident's wellbeing, unless the resident consented to her family receiving that information, the Commissioner found that the rest home "should have discussed with [the resident] the extent to which she wanted her condition to be discussed with her family. That conversation should have been adequately recorded, to ensure that staff knew how much information about her health status should be discussed, and when the family should be contacted". The Commissioner also found that the while the rest home had policies for care planning and medication administration, staff failed to comply with these policies consistently and the medication administration policy did not adequately provide for obtaining medications out of hours. The rest home was found in breach of Rights 4(1) and 4(5). 11HDC00812