The Herald rest home series

November 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald has started its series on rest homes. We’ve all been waiting for this since Whale published their plans several weeks ago about what types of stories they were seeking, who they would get comment from etc etc.

I thought the opening paragraph was interesting:

A Herald investigation of rest homes – where a greater proportion of elderly people die than in 12 other developed countries – has found that although most care is at least adequate, some reflects major failings.

So in other words we have the 13th best rest home mortality rate in the developed (and no doubt entire) world, which puts us in the top third or so of countries. It takes considerable effort to make that seem a bad statistic.

That is not to say that there are not issues with some rest homes. But I’m not sure portraying what is a pretty good statistic as a very negative one is helpful.

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35 Responses to “The Herald rest home series”

  1. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    /shrug It’s written by Simon Collins.

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  2. redqueen (448 comments) says:

    It’s the Herald…

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  3. PaulL (5,871 comments) says:

    Presumably everybody in a rest home dies eventually. Either in the rest home or in a hospital.

    If we’re doing well people go into a rest home as late as possible (ie closer to death) and at end of life get high quality palliative care in the rest home, not acute care in a hospital.

    In other words, a better run system has a higher death rate in rest homes. Obviously a busted system can also have a high death rate, but a high death rate isn’t an indicator of failure.

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  4. Whaleoil (766 comments) says:

    Newsflash – old people die in rest homes!

    I wonder when the Herald will run their expose that 100% of people with exposure to di-hydrogen monoxide eventually die…is there a correlation of these two events.

    Then there is the fact that 100% of people who inhale the following chemicals also die, O2, CO2, N, Ne, He, CH4, H2, Kr, Ar, N2, more of that H2O, plus some N2O, CO, Xe, O3 NO2, I2 and NH3

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  5. Bovver (143 comments) says:

    It was interesting hearing Sean Plunket on the state of journalism in NZ (basically it’s shite), my mum just moved into a rest home (now 84) and she loves it. Old people dying in rest homes is not news.

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  6. tknorriss (327 comments) says:

    The ranking list is utter bullshit and doesn’t stand a moment of scrutiny.

    The rankings don’t take into account the availability of rest home care in the referenced countries. If there is less rest homes as a percentage of the population there will be a lower percentage of deaths in them. It says nothing about how well the elderly are cared for in the homes.

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  7. Akaroa (534 comments) says:

    I read it. Depressing, negative, down-beat and disturbing. The message seems to be: “Whatever you do don’t ever let yourself be shunted into one of these Do-the-boys-hall-type Dickensian establishments.

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  8. Komata (1,105 comments) says:

    This ‘statistic’ is absolutely meaningless unless we have a comparator from which to obtain additional information.

    Without such a reference anyone can say anything they want-to and no-one can contradict them. This is where the Herald of course plays clever. It obtains information form ‘somewhere’ and after no-doubt ‘altering it’ to suit the story, proceeds to publish it, sans references or origins. In academia such an exercise would be returned with a terse comment, in ‘newspaper-land’ nothing is done.

    The general public, knowing no better and believing that the Herald is ‘always’ right, have no reason to doubt what they read.

    A request to the Herald to ‘reveal its source’ of this information will of course elicit the reply that ‘we do not reveal our sources’.

    No doubt the editors and journalists who authorise and write such articles believe that they are sooo clever and that they are once again ‘sticking it to the evil Mr. Key’.

    For a paper that was once ‘ establishment’ and fully supportive of National Party policies, the fall has been a long one. No doubt it will continue, and the publishers will wonder why circulation is declining…

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  9. nostrils (53 comments) says:

    They also managed to make a negative story out of internet statistics….. disadvantaged poor, the elderly, maori and pacific islanders, rural dwellers, blah, blah, blah…..

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  10. anonymouse (693 comments) says:

    @DPF, David the 12th best figure is not a reflection on rest home mortality, but one on the use of rest homes,

    If you look at the list of countries that are “better” than NZ you find that it is led by Korea, Singapore and Japan, all countries where the use of rest homes is low and the elderly are cared for inhome (although in the case of Japan this is now resulting in 85year olds being cared for by their 60 year old children).

    This statistics tells us nothing about how good or bad rest homes are, it is simply a skewed stat on how commonly the elderly are residing in rest homes. They should have simply balanced this death % with a % of the population in rest homes, which would undistort the figures, but hey never let a good headline go by.

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  11. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    100% of marriages end in divorce or death.

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  12. CJPhoto (213 comments) says:

    What about the use of the work “mauled”. While clearly inappropriate behavior from the 95yo gentleman, it does not appear it was violent as the word mauled implies. This is further proven should you read to the very last sentence where it states he sent her back there a further 5 times.

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  13. Komata (1,105 comments) says:

    … and having just recheck the graph accompanying th article, it is noticeable that the NZ data is for the 2003-2007 period, the so-called ‘Clark era’. Any mention of that? Not that I can see. Any indication that perhaps labour’s policies may have been responsible in any way? No. Any calling to account the likes of the appropriate Labour ministers in charge at the time? Have Messers. Mallard, King, Dyson, Goff et al been quizzed by ‘bright young things playing at being journo’s’ as to why they there was such an alarming death rate in NZ rest homes when they were in power? Surprise, surprise, not one has been approached.

    But heh, why let facts and accuracy get in the way when, by implication, one can tar the current-government with an ‘uncaring’ brush.

    It pays wages and sells papers and that is all that matters. Truth? what’s that?

    But, if these things had occurred under a Labour administration, the silence would be deafening.

    A neutral and objective fourth estate? Somehow, I don’t think so…

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  14. Rich Prick (1,529 comments) says:

    I can’t see how this Herald crusade in any way helps Len Brown, so what is the point of it?

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  15. dime (9,351 comments) says:

    It sucked in the moron on radio live. the dude who took over from the two racists.

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  16. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    ” Herald investigation of rest homes – where a greater proportion of elderly people die than in 12 other developed countries – has found that although most care is at least adequate, some reflects major failings.

    So in other words we have the 13th best rest home mortality rate in the developed (and no doubt entire) world, ”

    Is that the right way to read that paragraph? I read it as the highest proportionate death rate of the 13 measured countries? It’s still a meaningless” statistic as others have pointed out.

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  17. smttc (686 comments) says:

    I read it to mean more elderly die in NZ rest homes and retirement villages than they do in 12 other developed countries.

    Still a bloody meaningless statistic though.

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  18. Archer (170 comments) says:

    So the Herald has just sort of, uh, accepted that they’re not a balanced/neutral news source… they’re not even going to pretend anymore?

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  19. Allyson (41 comments) says:

    Its taken them a couple of years but the herald has found some dying people. Now how to blame the government.

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  20. Fentex (854 comments) says:

    rest homes – where a greater proportion of elderly people die than in 12 other developed countries

    What could this possibly mean? We have enough wealth to house more of our elderly in purpose built homes than most so they eventually pass away in comfortable surroundings assured of caring company?

    It reads like it’s supposed to be damning of something but could mean any number of positive things. Personally I think it’s extremely likely that a very high proportion of people living in rest homes die in them, so if the number of people doing so increases then it indicates more people in rest homes.

    Are we meant to expect that is a bad thing? Are we presumably to prefer the elderly to live alone in neglect?

    The only bad thing I could imagine indicated by such a statistic would be a possible indication of a breakdown in family and abandonment of parents by their children, but I’d need a lot more to make me think that rather than the more positive possibility that we’re providing plentiful facilities for our elders.

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  21. RRM (9,414 comments) says:

    Statistically, 100% of elderly people end up dead.

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  22. smttc (686 comments) says:

    A greater proportion of elderly people in 12 other developed countries die in their own homes than in NZ.

    Doesn’t matter how you write it, it still invites the rhetorical “So what?”.

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  23. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    @smttc or perhaps in these other countries, old people die in the street and are turned into dog food?

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  24. Peter (1,576 comments) says:

    100% of people who read the Herald will die.

    Some will die painfully. Some will simply fall down dead. But they will all die eventually.

    I think this says a lot.

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  25. CharlieBrown (889 comments) says:

    Has anyone thought of laying a complaint with the online media standards authority or press council? This opinion piece should at least be labelled as opinion, as it is so far from balanced.

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  26. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    Herald Investigation.????

    simply a lie. They just don’t know how to investigate.

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  27. SPC (5,333 comments) says:

    I note everyone here is falling into line – whaleoil/simon says the blog right needs to attack the Herald because its news coverage will impact on the 2014 election that is no sure thing.

    The attack helps to explain why the world view of those in the blog world of like minds is not shared by the wider society. I am sure cults reassure their members using the same methods.

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  28. Bovver (143 comments) says:

    “I note everyone here is falling into line – whaleoil/simon says the blog right needs to attack the Herald because its news coverage will impact on the 2014 election that is no sure thing.

    The attack helps to explain why the world view of those in the blog world of like minds is not shared by the wider society. I am sure cults reassure their members using the same methods.”

    Whatever, crap journalism is still crap.

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  29. marcw (222 comments) says:

    Life is a sexually transmitted terminal condition – it matters not where you live.

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  30. JC (904 comments) says:

    Here’s some interesting OECD data:

    http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/47884520.pdf

    NZ has relatively low Long Term Care (LTC) users in their homes compared to institutions.. 2.1% of population compared to some countries over 3%. That means we have more aged people in institutions that 14 other countries.

    We have the second highest population over 80 receiving LTC.

    So we have a high proportion of our elderly in institutions and they are near the oldest in the OECD.

    I wonder if that might account for more deaths in resthomes?

    JC

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  31. NK (1,060 comments) says:

    Is the Herald going to interview the thousands of satisfied clients in resthomes and retirement villages to provide some balance? I could give them a list of very satisfied participants. I have helped hundreds of elderly clients into retirement villages, and later resthomes. I have had one complaint from a dissatisfied sibling in 12 years. The Herald is a disgrace.

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  32. MH (624 comments) says:

    some elderly people after reading the Herald in rest homes have since died. The size and content of the recently revamped broadsheet is thought to be the cause with many of the deceased being suffocated whilst slumping forward as they have nodded off ,however statistics are not yet available but it is presumed most were reading their own obits. The paper has accepted responsibility and has withdrawn paper deliveries to rest homes.

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  33. jackinabox (547 comments) says:

    My nearest neighbour is a rest home owner and operator and practicing psychopath. He is also a convicted cannabis oil manufacturer. How he got and retains his rest home licence is beyond me. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one day he makes world headlines as New Zealand’s answer to Harold Shipman.

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  34. Michael_S3 (1 comment) says:

    I for one am sick and tired of the Herald’s continuing efforts to preset a negative view of the Government and its agencies.
    Could someone please list the names of the directors of APN so that I, and those who are of a similar view, can contact them to express our disgust.

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  35. MH (624 comments) says:

    time to dust off a copy of Derek Quigley’s report on fire extinguishes in rest homes,,,,,gosh,he’s 82.

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