Wellington Scoop

Malvina Major, Mozart, and dementia

by Lindsay Shelton
Some of the audience at the NZSO concert in the Michael Fowler Centre last night seemed surprised to be told that Ryman Healthcare was sponsoring the event. When the disembodied pre-concert voice made the announcement, there was a substantial amount of muttering from the audience, and it continued as the voice went on with its gratuitous instruction to “enjoy” the concert.

Such an instruction is never needed. The “Magnificent Mozart” evening was sold out and was of course enjoyable, distinguished by a gorgeous performance of the Sinfonia Concertante with fine playing from Vesa-Matti Lepanen and Julia Joyce.

It was disconcerting, nevertheless, to realise that earlier in the day Alzheimers NZ had issued a statement welcoming Rymans’ apology about the widely-reported failings in caring for a dementia patient at the Malvina Major home. As the Rymans-sponsored concert began, many of us would have been wondering why it was necessary for Rymans to state that it would be taking steps to ensure quality care at the Malvina Major Retirement Village. Isn’t that what its website (which doesn’t carry an apology) tells us it’s been delivering?

A few days earlier, the industrial adviser of the NZ Nurses’ Organisation had said that nurses were not to blame for the Malvina Major failures. Here’s how he defined the problems:

“The lack of mandatory staffing levels, inadequate registered nursing hours, training requirements and pay rates for carers on or near the minimum wage … Nurses and carers simply cannot provide the care which they want to provide if the facility is understaffed and under resourced.”

He also talked about Rymans’ profits.

“There is something seriously wrong with the sector when taxpayers provided $800 million to Rymans last year to provide care for our most vulnerable elderly citizens and at the same time they post profits of $100 million. And that massive profit is up 19 percent on the previous year, and Ryman’s eleventh year of profit increases.”

The NZSO and its audiences are no doubt benefitting from Rymans’ profits. But as well as apologising, Rymans should also be re-considering its priorities. While sponsorship of the arts is an estimable activity, care and respect for dementia patients needs to adequately financed – not only at the Malvina Major village but also at its 25 other establishments.

No qualifications? You could train for a de-regulated healthcare job

1 comment:

  1. Elaine E, 11. August 2013, 18:36

    What a shocking story! This article should receive the widest possible distribution. For-profit health care will always foster the welfare of investors over that of patients.