The Government has appointed Carolyn Cooper as New Zealand’s inaugural Aged Care Commissioner to lead much needed systematic change in the sector, Minister for Seniors and Associate Minister of Health, Ayesha Verrall announced today.
“All New Zealanders need to be able to access safe and quality health care. Our country has an ageing population and we expect demand for aged care services to increase,” Dr Verrall said.
“There are many positive stories from older New Zealanders who use aged care services, however there are times when the care falls short.
“Several reports have identified issues in aged care services, ranging from the complexity of the complaints process, to people fearing repercussions if they raise issues, and the lack of visibility around services provided by home and community support providers.
“I’m pleased to appoint Ms Cooper as the Aged Care Commissioner to champion the rights of our most vulnerable.”
Ms Cooper has over 40 years of experience across health systems in both New Zealand and Australia – starting her career as a registered general and obstetric nurse. Over the years, she’s had governance, executive and clinical leadership roles across District Health Boards, aged care, rehabilitation and quality and risk management, the Minister said.
“The current system to ensure quality and safety in the sector is fragmented, and it can be complicated navigating services to get help. This disconnect has made it difficult for those who want to make a complaint about aged care to speak up, be heard, and receive a timely response.”
“The Aged Care Commissioner is an important watchdog role to protect older New Zealanders and the appointment delivers on our manifesto commitment.
“Ms Cooper has a deep understanding of the needs of those using aged care services and will use her skills and experience to drive change across the sector. She will be able to make sure the care being provided is consistent and culturally appropriate for all older New Zealanders, including Māori and Pacific people.
“Ms Cooper has been appointed for a five-year term and will take up her role in March 2022,” Dr Verrall said.
The Aged Care Commissioner will report through the Health and Disability Commissioner.