Making a complaint about your residential care

Information on what to do if you have any concerns or would like to make a complaint about the residential care you or someone you know is receiving.

New resources to navigate the residential care complaints process 

Simon Wallace, New Zealand Aged Care Association CEO talks about new resources, that have been jointly developed with the Ministry of Health, to assist in navigating the residential care complaints process.

[Simon Wallace, New Zealand Aged Care Association CEO to camera] Generally things go really well when an older person is in care but on the rare occasions when it doesn’t go so well it’s critical that there’s an effective complaints system in place for residents, for families and whanau, and actually for the rest home providers themselves.

We’ve developed a really easy to use suite of resources to help people navigate the complaints process so they can be used by residents and families and they can be used by the rest home providers themselves.

The rest home providers can use these resources for training their own staff, for their nurses and their caregivers and their other staff.

They can be used in an admission agreement that the rest home is giving to the family and they can be used for a whole variety of other training purposes.

They can also be used around the rest home and pinned up for staff and families to view.

We absolutely want to make the complaints process a lot easier for all the parties involved, for the residents, for the families, for the rest home providers themselves, and even for the government agencies that are involved.

And we think this is a really easily accessible set of resources that can be used to help that process.

Complaints can actually be a really positive thing and they help all of us to improve what we’re doing and we’ve got some good tips here to help us to be able to achieve that.

If you have any concerns or would like to make a complaint about the residential care you or someone you know is receiving, please use the following steps:

1. Discuss your concerns with the residential care provider

Talk to the manager. This is the first line for response to a complaint. Residential care homes have the ability to manage any immediate issues or actions required. They can answer questions at the point of care. They can check and answer questions and concerns about a resident’s admission agreement or private contract to see what services the person agreed to pay for; and address care concerns and complaints.

Support from a Health and Disability Advocate

If you would like the support of an advocate, the Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service (Advocacy Service) offers free advocacy support to anyone receiving residential care. An advocate can help you identify what the issues are that need to be addressed, and what resolution looks like. They then provide support to help you take your concerns to the care provider.  

The Advocacy Service has a network of advocates who work in community offices around NZ and regularly visit residential care homes to meet with residents and their families. Advocates also spend time talking to residential care staff about the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, including consumers’ right to complain.

A health and disability advocate would be happy to talk through your complaint options with you, and can be contacted on 0800 555 050 or via the Advocacy Service website

2. Contact your local Te Whatu Ora Portfolio Manager

If you feel that talking directly with the residential care home hasn't resolved the issue, you contact your local health of older persons Te Whatu Ora Portfolio Manager. They can assist with the management of the complaint. The Portfolio Manager may work with specialist nurses/clinicians, speak to and / or visit the rest home to gather information and, and will contact you with their findings. Please note: gathering information may take time.

List of Te Whatu Ora Portfolio Managers by District
Northland Online feedback
Waitemata Online feedback
Auckland [email protected]
Counties Manukau [email protected]
Waikato [email protected]
Bay of Plenty [email protected]
Lakes sp&[email protected]
Tairawhiti [email protected], [email protected]
Taranaki [email protected]
Hawkes Bay [email protected]
Whanganui [email protected]
MidCentral [email protected]
Wairarapa [email protected]
Capital and Coast [email protected]
Hutt Valley [email protected]
Nelson Marlborough [email protected]
Canterbury Contact us page
West Coast Contact us page
South Canterbury [email protected]
Southern [email protected]

3. Contact the Ministry of Health

If you feel that you have concerns that haven't been addressed, contact HealthCERT at the Ministry of Health, or Disability Support Services at Whaikaha Ministry for Disabled People. They can assist with the management of the complaint and information on process. Part of their process would be to speak to Te Whatu Ora and/or care service to investigate. HealthCERT can also carry out spot inspections.  Note: This isn't an immediate response to your care questions and gathering information may take time. 

You can contact HealthCERT by emailing [email protected], or phoning 0800 113 813

Disability Support services can be contacted by emailing  [email protected], [email protected], or by phoning 0800 373 664 

4. The Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC)

The Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) considers complaints about health and disability services, including rest homes and other aged care services. After receiving a complaint, HDC gathers information from the care service, Te Whatu Ora, HealthCERT and other agencies as needed. HDC may decide to close the complaint with educative comments or recommendations (often after receiving advice from clinical experts); refer the complaint to Te Whatu Ora or to the Advocacy Service for resolution between the parties; or, in some serious cases, HDC may carry out a formal investigation. A formal investigation can be a lengthy process (over a year) and may not provide immediate answers to questions about the care provided.

For complaints about services, you can contact a Nationwide Health and Disability Advocate on 0800 555 050 to discuss your complaint and the best way to resolve it, or go to the Advocacy Service website:

You can contact HDC directly via the website,, or by phone, 0800 11 22 33.  

As part of Budget 2021, the Government has announced that a dedicated Aged Care Commissioner role will be established within the office of the HDC to provide a higher profile and focal point for monitoring and addressing quality and safety issues in the aged care sector, and to provide greater influence and leadership to the aged care sector in prioritising and driving systemic quality improvement. It is expected that the terms of reference for the Commissioner and the timing of an appointment to this role will be agreed with the Minister of Health before the end of 2021. 

Complaints about costs

For complaints about costs you can talk to your residential care provider, Te Whatu Ora, seek legal advice or go to the Disputes Tribunal (formerly known as Small Claims Tribunal).

Advice is available at How to make a claim on the Disputes Tribunal of New Zealand website.

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