Understanding interRAI

Sometimes older people put up with difficult situations relating to their health and wellbeing when they don’t have to. It may be possible to sort these problems out. This is where an assessment can be helpful. It’s like standing back and taking stock of all the things that might be impacting on you e.g. a medical condition, your physical ability to do things, your mental wellbeing and social situation, etc.

An assessment helps determine what support you need, how your needs can be met and whether you qualify for publicly funded support. The type of assessment done in this situation is known as interRAI. It is done by an interRAI trained health professional who is skilled in the area of older people’s health. It is both comprehensive and standardized and internationally validated best practice.

How interRAI works

Throughout New Zealand, health professionals in District Health Boards and aged residential care facilities use standardised interRAI assessment instruments to help determine which level of support clients and residents over 65 years old need.

There are many types of interRAI assessments (including reassessments), and the one most suited to you is determined by the type of needs you have.

  • If a short assessment or reassessment is indicated it may be done by a Needs Assessor, usually based in the community.
  • If your needs are complex, then more information will be needed to ensure you get the most appropriate support. This assessment is completed by a Clinical Needs Assessor from the DHB. A comprehensive interRAI assessment is thorough and can take up to two hours.
  • Sometimes a basic assessment or review can be done over the phone. These calls are only made if it is thought that the situation can be properly addressed in this way. If you have problems discussing such things over the phone e.g. you can’t hear well, feel uncomfortable, want someone with you or can’t explain things properly, then ask for a ‘face to face’ meeting.

The outcome of the assessment will be discussed with you and, with your permission, your family/whānau. If you require treatment a referral to the appropriate service will be made.

Facts about interRAI

Population over 65+ who have had at least one assessment:

  • 13% Female
  • 8% Male

Over the 2018/19 period interRAI there were:

  • 35,954 assessments for homecare
  • 72,759 assessments for long term care

The most common conditions for those assessed for long term care were:

  • Dementia Alzheimer Disease (49%)
  • Dementia other than Alzheimer (37.17%)

The most common conditions for those assessed for home care were:

  • Coronary Heart Disease (30%)
  • Dementia including Alzheimer (26%)

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.


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    What are the definitions for each dementia care level. eg what is D4, or D5 or D6

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      Kia ora – thanks for your inquiry. These terms are no longer in use but you will still come across them. D6 referred to the current psychogeriatric level of care. Terms in use are dementia rest home and dementia hospital (ie, psychogeriatric)