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DHB Says No Smoking in Rest Homes

Media release from NZ Aged Care Association

DHB Says No Smoking in Rest Homes: Political Correctness Gone Mad

Mid Central DHB is trying to stop the elderly smoking by attempting to force aged care providers into signing a contract variation which stops smoking inside and outside a rest home or hospital by 1 July 2014.

“This approach is wrong on a number of levels. First, a blanket approach to smoking ignores the rights of the elderly in a setting which is meant to be as home like as possible” said Martin Taylor, CEO of the NZ Aged Care Association.

“It also ignores the reality that in one of the most difficult stages of someone’s life the DHB wants to forcibly stop the elderly doing something that brings them comfort. It’s tantamount to elder abuse” said Mr Taylor.

The average age of entry into aged residential care is 84, which means the current group of rest home residents were born in 1929. This was an era where smoking was accepted, cheap and deemed to be healthy.

“Don’t get me wrong smoking is an unhealthy habit, but if you have managed to be a smoker for a few decades and beat the odds and enter aged residential care you should have this lifestyle choice supported” said Mr Taylor.

It is also arguable this action by MidCentral DHB goes against the wishes of Parliament as the issue of smoking in rest homes was addressed in the Smoke Free Environments Act in 1990 and then again in an amendment in 2003.

On both occasions politicians agreed elderly residents could smoke in aged residential care rest homes and hospitals and this was confirmed in section 6 of the Act:

6 Dedicated smoking rooms in hospital care institutions, residential disability care institutions, and rest homes

• (1) An employer may permit smoking by patients or residents of a workplace that is, or is part of, a hospital care institution, a residential disability care institution, or a rest home if……

“It is disappointing MidCentral DHB has decided to take this action without consulting with the aged care sector or considering the impact on the elderly – it just seems like political correctness gone mad” said Mr Taylor


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