Rest home residents have been strapped to chairs all day with minimal movement or repositioning, documents show.

The Herald can also reveal Justice Minister Andrew Little is set to sign off on a major shake-up of the monitoring of locked aged-care and disability facilities – a move Grey Power says could help avoid rare “horror stories”.

It follows warnings from the Human Rights Commission about the large number of older Kiwis in facilities where “lived experience is being locked within a building with no exit”.

Physical restraint restricts a patient’s voluntary movement, including through belts and railing. Because of a high risk of trauma and injury it must only be used if a resident is at serious risk to themselves or others.

Herald review of rest home audit reports published since 2016 has found 27 homes have had “moderate” or “high” risk shortcomings related to restraint.

In one of the worst, a resident was restrained to a chair and instructions to move them twice each morning and afternoon shift weren’t carried out. Auditors saw the resident in the same sitting position for more than four hours, and records showed the lap belt was on for up to six hours at a time.

“The amount of time staff spent mobilising the resident had been an ongoing issue for the family for five months,” the September 2016 audit report of Bethlehem Views stated.

Arvida Group bought the facility shortly after the audit, and a spokesman said management and policy had been overhauled. A restraint minimisation policy included GP and family consent.

Issues picked up in audit reports for other homes include a lack of documentation or family notification, and restraint being applied despite the resident not being at risk.

Systemic issues at one home included a resident strapped with a lap belt all day with just one “walk”, and another who slipped in her chair, meaning a lap belt was at chest height. KiwiAnnia Care, owner at the time of the 2015 audit, is now in receivership.


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