Wairoa Star, Wairoa East Coast by STUART NASH June 2017
Last week I presented a petition, on behalf of Wairoa residents, to Kevin Atkinson, the Chair of the Hawkes Bay District Health Board. The petition called on the DHB to work in partnership with the Wairoa community and Bupa to find a way to keep the Glengarry rest home’s dementia ward open.
Bupa, the owner of Wairoa’s Glengarry facility, is a large multinational not-for-profit private provider of healthcare services operating in 190 countries and with a customer base of over 32m and global revenues of £9.8b. In terms of their New Zealand operation, Bupa cares for over 4,000 people in 62 homes, 33 retirement villages, seven rehabilitation sites and a medical alarm network. They are, according to their website, the largest provider of dementia care in the country, so we are talking about a substantial organisation here.
Glengarry itself is certified to provide rest home, hospital (medical and geriatric) and dementia services for up to 41 residents. The issue is that it has nine dementia beds but only three patients.
I understand the issue, because Bupa is only funded on the number of patients it cares for, not the number of beds it has. The true cost, as well as the opportunity cost, of carrying six empty high-needs beds is high. I can also understand Bupa’s desire to better optimise its facilities, however, I also am very well aware that the number of dementia cases is expected to increase significantly as the population ages.
My issue is that if Bupa goes ahead with its plans and removes any dementia capacity from Glengarry, it represents a further hollowing out of the town. So if someone has a relative requiring dementia care, under the proposal as it stands, they will potentially have to travel – or move – to either Napier or Gisborne.
While I am unsure of the financials, I cannot see how downsizing Glengarry’s dementia ward doesn’t represent the best interests of the community, rather than a full closure.
The ideal outcome is that Bupa is prepared to sit down with the DHB and come up with a solution that works for all, because the DHB, on its own, actually can’t ‘force’ Bupa to keep Glengarry’s dementia ward open. After all, none of us know when we – or a close relative – may need the type of specialist dementia care that Bupa pride themselves on.