There is a lot of information you need to know when supporting a family member to find a placement in a rest home. Village Guide has put together a list of some frequently asked questions to support your journey to care.
Residential care is the umbrella term for the different types of long-term care provided in a rest home or hospital. Some examples of residential care include rest home care, hospital care (also known as continuing care), specialised hospital care (also known as psychogeriatric care), and dementia care. It’s also common for rest homes and hospitals to offer short-term care services, such as respite care and day care.
Rest homes provide care for people who can no longer safely care for themselves. They are staffed by registered nurses and caregivers. Retirement villages provide independent and assisted living options for people who can safely live alone, but would like access to extra support from time to time. Retirement villages usually have shared facilities, such as a cafe, swimming pool, or gym, for residents to enjoy.
It’s quite common for a rest home to share an address with a retirement village. A rest home and retirement village may even have the same name. However, rest homes and retirement villages offer very different services and have different criteria for entry. Rest homes are also subject to different legislative requirements.
To apply for DHB-contracted residential care, someone must first undergo a Needs Assessment. This assessment will determine what type of care the individual requires, for example rest home care, hospital care, or dementia care. To move into a rest home, someone must be assessed as having high needs that cannot be supported by the community and cannot be reversed (i.e. assessed as requiring long-term, indefinite care). They must also be either aged 65 and over or between 50 and 64 if unmarried with no dependent children.
Once someone is assessed and found eligible for DHB-contracted residential care, the next step is to make enquiries to rest homes to check if they have availability. You can search for rest homes right here on Village Guide and contact them directly.
Individuals can choose to enter residential care without completing a Needs Assessment, but this means they will be liable for the total cost of their care.
You can arrange a Needs Assessment by contacting your local Needs Assessment and Coordination service (NASC). You will most likely need a written referral in order to book a Needs Assessment. You can get a blank written referral form from your local NASC. Anyone can provide a written referral as long as they have the agreement of the person who requires the Needs Assessment.
There are many different types and sizes of rest homes throughout New Zealand. The most important thing is to find a rest home that provides the correct level of care for the individual (as determined by the Needs Assessment). Once you know the level of care needed, you can search for rest homes on Village Guide and create a shortlist of possible options. It’s worth noting that an individual’s care needs may evolve over time. Many rest homes offer a full continuum of care, from rest home care right through to specialised dementia care and palliative care.
In addition to care needs, it’s important to find a rest home that feels comfortable for the person who will be living there. Consider their hobbies and interests, likes and dislikes. For example, do they love being close to nature? Do they enjoy movies or going on outings? Every rest home has a different atmosphere. We recommend visiting several before making a final decision. You might find it helpful to visit our Rest Home Resource Centre for more information about rest homes. Here, you can download a checklist of questions to ask rest home managers.
District Health Boards (DHBs) fund residential care services for seniors. DHBs contract private rest home owners (also known as ‘providers’ or ‘operators’) to deliver these services. However, an individual may have to contribute to the cost of their residential care if their assets or income exceeds certain thresholds. These thresholds are set and managed by Work and Income.
Government funding for residential care is called the Residential Care Subsidy. This subsidy is paid directly to rest homes on behalf of an individual. The subsidy covers the difference between how much residential care costs and how much an individual must contribute (according to their assets and income test). For example, if residential care costs $1,400 and an individual must pay $300, their Residential Care Subsidy will be $1,100.
If someone is not eligible for the Residential Care Subsidy, they may wish to apply for a Residential Care Loan, instead.
To determine eligibility for the Residential Care Subsidy, an individual will need to complete both a Needs Assessment and an assets and income assessment. They must also be a New Zealand citizen or resident, be aged 65 years or older (or aged between 50 and 64 if unmarried with no dependent children), and plan to receive care from a DHB-contracted rest home.
These types of rooms are called premium rooms and are subject to premium charges. The Residential Care Subsidy only covers the cost of standard rooms and services, so if an individual would like a premium room, they must pay for it separately. Different rest homes charge different rates for premium rooms, so it’s best to check with them directly.
The Residential Care Subsidy also does not cover certain living expenses, such as personal toiletries, personal subscriptions, specialist visits, toll calls, and more. It’s important to check which costs an individual is responsible for paying. Some rest homes package certain services up as ‘premium services’ and provide them for a weekly fee.
DHB-contracted rest homes are subject to regular audits by the Ministry of Health. They must comply with the Residential Care and Disability Support Services Act 2018, the Health and Disability Services (Safety) Act 2001, and the Health and Disability Sector Standards 2001. Some audits are pre-arranged and others are random. The findings from each audit are publicly available on the Ministry of Health website.
You can check a rest home’s availability by contacting a rest home directly and telling them the level of care the individual requires according to their Needs Assessment. A rest home cannot accurately provide information about availability unless they know exactly what type of care someone needs. That’s why it’s so important to complete a Needs Assessment as a first step. You can browse rest homes and contact those of interest right here on Village Guide.
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