Residents doubt promise of new lift

An image showing the slippery hand rails on the outdoor staircase at Metlifecare. Photo supplied

Retirement village providers Metlifecare have promised to replace a troublesome lift at the Pakuranga village following complaints from residents that the existing lift is unsafe.

However residents aren’t confident they will see this promise carried out anytime soon.

On February 22 the Times reported that residents were criticising Metlifecare for failing to replace a “dangerous lift” that regularly breaks down and has trapped residents inside several times.

The only alternative to the 19-year-old lift is an outdoor staircase which residents say becomes “dangerously slippery” when it rains.

Long-time resident Irene McFarlane says residents have been asking for the lift to be replaced and the stairs to be covered for several years, without any luck.

She says while she is hopeful a lift replacement will come soon, she isn’t holding her breath.

She says she hopes Metlifecare don’t ignore the option of turning the current staircase into a covered, indoor stairwell.

“We understand that replacing the lift is not going to be a quick and easy fix but, in the meantime, they need to cover the staircase so we aren’t battling the weather every time it rains.”

McFarlane says the irony is that the stairs are only hazardous in wet weather, which is also the biggest cause of the lift break downs.

“The stairs as they are aren’t a safe alternative. The steps and handrails become so slippery that one misstep could cause serious harm,” she says.

Non-slip treads were put on the stairs by Metlifecare but residents say just days later the treads started peeling off. Photo supplied

“But I see why they think this, because the only time anyone comes to inspect the stairs is when the weather is good.”

General manager operations Richard Callander says they are committed to resolving the residents’ concerns and are aiming to replace the lift within months rather than years.

“While the lift and stairs at Pakuranga village are operationally safe, we have escalated the investigation into the lift and can confirm that engineers, our independent lift consultant and our Group Maintenance Manager have reviewed the lift on site and have commenced investigating options for a suitable replacement,” he says.

“Lifts are bespoke and must be made overseas to fit the specific site, hence they can take months to be made and installed. We therefore are not yet in a position to commit to a date of replacement.”

Callander says they are not yet in a position to confirm an exact date of replacement.

McFarlane says Metlifecare doesn’t want to commit to replacing the lift within a certain timeframe so that it can’t be held accountable when it takes too long to replace.

“We have been asking for the lift to be replaced for so long – why would it all of a sudden fall into place in a matter of months now?”

She wonders what the residents are expected to do in the meantime.

“We can’t wait around for a new lift if we’ve got another couple of winters to go with the only alternative an uncovered staircase,” she says.

McFarlane herself has fallen down the hazardous stairs in 2012, from which she still suffers ongoing issues.

Following complaints, Metlifecare have since recoated the stairs with new non-slip treads on February 28, but McFarlane says the treads have already started peeling off at the edges.

McFarlane says its “frustrating seeing them do so little” when an easier solution would be to cover in the stairs and then focus on replacing the lift knowing that the residents can safely access the second level in the meantime.

“I know that legally they are probably doing everything that they need to, but we need to keep in mind that their business is old people and at some point you would expect them to be morally obligated to do more than what they are currently doing,” she says.

Callander says Metlifecare is currently investigating options to improve the stair and access experience to this part of the village.

He says however these improvements are very much at preliminary stages of investigation, and would be subject to design work and council consent.

Residents are still waiting to receive official confirmation that a lift replacement is being considered, Macfarlane said.