23 Feb 2011 | Partners in Care
Julie Haggie is the CEO of the New Zealand Home Health Association (NZHHA) – the national body representing providers of home health care services. Home health care includes a range of services available for people who need support to live at home. Services include personal care, household management, nursing care, and complex care for people with serious needs.
Community-based agencies and companies employ support workers, caregivers and health care professionals to provide these services. Funding may come from ACC, the Ministry of Health or District Health Boards, depending on the health need.
Currently, organisations providing home health care services are not required to be certificated to a particular quality standard, and Julie says this needs to change.
“With health services increasingly being devolved to the community, and clients’ health needs becoming more complex, having a mandatory standard for home health care providers is becoming critical. Unlike the requirements for providers of residential care, who must be certificated and comply with the 2008 Health and Disability Services Standard, there are few controls on who can provide home health care.
“While it is a condition of membership that organisations belonging to the NZHHA must be certificated to the 2003 Home and Community Support Sector Standard, there are a large number of non-member providers who are not.
There needs to be much greater consistency across New Zealand, in service quality, and in availability of and access to services,” says Julie Haggie.
“Many providers deliver consistently high quality care to their clients. But because services are provided in people’s homes, it can be very difficult to get a picture of what is going on and to measure the care being provided.
“We are seeing larger numbers of older patients being cared for at home, as well as clients with serious injuries and other complex health needs, and providers must be able to adequately meet their needs.”
Providers who are certificated to the Home and Community Support Sector Standard are audited every three years. The audit includes a mixture of policy and procedures, and evidence of implementation such as complaints management, incidents and accidents, meeting records, quality and risk management, health and safety, training, human resources, service information and service user support and care plans.
“If all home health care providers were certified, clients and potential clients would be able to check their audit results, and make an informed decision.”
She says, at the end of the day, it’s about providing the best possible care for clients.
“We need to be continually seeking to improve the service and level of care we provide. Organisations that are genuinely interested in improving the quality of their homecare don’t just run a complaints service, they use customer feedback to think about how they provide their service and to drive improvements.
“Home health care is a service that is increasingly in demand. We need to make sure people are provided with the highest quality, safest care possible.”