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Media release

Chief Ombudsman welcomes visit by international aged care expert

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The Chief Ombudsman, Peter Boshier, welcomes the recent visit of the UN’s independent expert on older people.

The UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, was in New Zealand between 2 and 12 March 2020 to assess the human rights situation of older people. She travelled to Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch for discussions with government representatives, including the Ombudsman.

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier says the UN has an active interest in what New Zealand is doing to ensure the human rights of older people in long-term care, particularly as the global population ages.

“I was pleased to be able to report that inspections of secured aged care facilities will soon include those in the private sector,” he says. 

“New Zealand has made international commitments to ensure our older and disabled people are being treated in the right way,” he says. “This includes putting in place protective measures such as independent inspections. It is increasingly important that we put in place safeguards as our population ages.”

The Chief Ombudsman is tasked with carrying out independent inspections under an international convention, to make sure the facilities in which people are detained have sufficient safeguards in place to prevent any human rights violations. This includes people detained in health and disability facilities, such as dementia facilities and psychogeriatric wards. From 1 July 2021, the Chief Ombudsman will start inspecting the treatment and conditions of people detained in privately-run aged care facilities.

The Ombudsman is also one of three agencies in New Zealand that promotes, protects and monitors implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New Zealand. While the Convention does not have a specific article covering older people with disabilities, a number of the articles support the rights of older disabled people.

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