A post-project review of the implementation of the interRAI needs assessment tool into aged residential care has been released by the new Associate Minister of Health, Nicky Wagner. In welcoming the report she also referred to “teething issues” in the roll-out process. NZCCSS aged care providers have been dealing with these “teething problems” during the entire implementation and the most challenging problems remain unresolved – the inability of the system to interact with other computer systems routinely used in the management of aged care as well as the lack of interoperability with systems used by doctors and primary care services or hospitals.

Most of the promised benefits of the new system have not yet begun to really make an impact, even for those who have worked with the system since its inception more than three years ago, yet the costs and disruption to front-line care services are on-going. The report concludes that the main benefits have been for the District Health Boards and their needs assessment teams, while service providers continue to face such issues as higher training costs, increased administration and data entry time for nurses that takes away from their time with residents.

Is Aged care Getting Better?

The biggest omission in the evaluation report is that its scope was limited to evaluating the process of implementation. It does not make any detailed attempt to measure whether the quality of care for older people living in rest homes has actually improved as a result of the interRAI implementation. Following on from a similar report on the introduction of audit and certification from last year, we are still none the wiser about whether outcomes in terms of wellbeing for older people living in aged care are actually getting better.

The full report is on the interRAI New Zealand website for download.