Innovation in NZ aged care can improve funding and quality: report

Changing the way funding is delivered could lead to more innovation in New Zealand's aged care sector and create more individualised care, according to new research.

New Zealanders entering residential aged care today are much older and have more complex needs than in the past and the pressures on funding services is increasing.

Associate Professor Dr John Parsons of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland led a team reviewing the clinical needs and resources used to provide care to older people across 61 Bupa residential care facilities.

The research was funded by the Bupa Health Foundation.

The findings validate the use of the interRAI classification (RUG-III) for use in New Zealand, paving the way for better targeting of funding and care for older people in residential care facilities.

Under the current funding system the District Health Boards (DHBs) distribute funding to the aged care sector across different levels of care.

The most expensive to fund is specialist hospital (psychogeriatric) care, followed by dementia care, continuing (hospital) care and rest home care.

Currently, people in New Zealand in residential care facilities have their needs assessed every six months using the interRAI LTCF (Long-Term Care Facilities Assessment System), a comprehensive assessment tool for older people.

This tool, mandated for use in July 2015, was originally devised in Canada.

In the research, Dr Parsons's team suggests that use is made of the system called RUG -III (Resource Utilisation Groups) to better distribute funding to improve the quality and personalisation of care plans for older people.

“What we know from work we’ve done in New Zealand and internationally is that if you change the funding model it incentivises innovation. It’s a way of improving care to our older people.

"This latest research confirms the applicability of the RUG-III case-mix for residential aged care in New Zealand.”

The Bupa Health Foundation is very pleased to have funded this important and timely study.

The Foundation recognises the importance of having an assessment system and funding model that is more sensitive to the needs of older people living in aged residential care. Such a system has potential to inform the affordability of services provided as well as drive quality care and innovation in the sector.
Annette Schmiede, Bupa Health Foundation

Jan Adams, Managing Director of Bupa New Zealand said, “Bupa has been happy to participate in this significant research with The University of Auckland."

"This research will help policy makers and providers better understand the care needs of older people and the resources required to meet their needs.”