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Concern for those held in aged care facilities without consent

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A new report raises concerns about the legal and human rights safeguards for older people held in secure dementia units and other facilities.

A new report published by the Human Rights Commission raises concerns about the legal and human rights safeguards for an estimated 5,000 elderly New Zealanders held in secure dementia units and psychogeriatric facilities.

The publication – This Is Not My Home – considers the legal and ethical issues around residential care for older people when the care is provided without the person's consent.

It identifies serious issues with the current legislative frameworks and with the associated policies and practices, such as a lack of legal safeguards protecting the rights of people placed in care.

"The report is concerning to read," says Disability Rights Commissioner and Acting Chief Commissioner Paula Tesoriero.

"The report's co-editor Dr Mark Fisher has previously cited about 4,000 New Zealanders being detained in secure dementia units, with a further 1,000 in residential psychogeriatric facilities.

"Very few of these people have formally consented to being held in these locked facilities, so it is critical that appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure everyone's rights and preferences are respected to the greatest extent possible," says Ms Tesoriero.

"This requires a real commitment to actively support individual decision-making. I hope that the calls for law reform and change of practice identified by the contributors will be carefully considered by all those who can influence change in this area."

Ms Tesoriero says that strong advocacy for this group of New Zealanders is critical, including more work to understand their perspectives.

This is Not My Home contains a collection of essays from lawyers, doctors, academics and a District Court judge.

The papers were originally prepared for a series of seminars and workshops on the legal safeguards and ethical issues around the care of elderly and psycho-geriatric patients in New Zealand.

Each paper represents the view of its individual author and do not necessarily represent the view of the Human Rights Commission or other contributors.

Read the report here.

Date: 20 August 2018

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission


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