The New Zealand Home Health Association1 is calling on Hawke's Bay District Health Board (DHB) to put more funding into the care of elderly people in their own homes.
Association Chief Executive Julie Haggie says that over the past three years, like other health boards, Hawke’s Bay DHB has received over 12 percent additional funding from the Government for hospital and community services.
During that time most other DHBs have passed on funding increases of 1.5-2.0% per annum to providers of community services, she says. But for three consecutive years, Hawke's Bay DHB has failed to pass on any increase to those who support people to live at home, and over the last year has also reduced the level of support to individual clients.
"The Government wants to provide more health and care services in the community. How can the DHB meet the health goal of delivering care closer to home when its decisions result in lower levels of support for vulnerable elderly and severe underfunding of providers?"
Mrs Haggie says more than 2600 of Hawke's Bay older citizens are able to live in their own homes with the assistance of home support.
"We know that people prefer to stay in their own home for as long as it is safe to do so.
"But home support agencies and their employees just can’t keep providing high-quality care indefinitely on the smell of an oily rag. Underfunding home support is false economy for the DHB.
"If people can be supported to stay well at home, they are also less likely to use more expensive residential care or suffer falls or illness that needs hospital-level support. Hawke's Bay DHB is one of the three lowest paying DHBs in New Zealand for rates to support elderly in the community.
"As well as the usual increases in overhead costs, agencies have had to face an increase in the minimum wage, Kiwisaver contributions and ACC levies as well as the increase from three to four weeks holiday. They are really struggling to keep going, and to retain staff who are expected to work in the community for rates that are 20% lower than working as health aids in the hospital.
"The New Zealand Home Health Association urges the DHB to increase its investment in this service, for the sake of the region’s older people."
For further information contact Julie Haggie: 04 472 3196, 0274 989 126
1. The New Zealand Home Health Association Inc is the national body representing providers of home health care services. For more information see www.nzhha.org.nz.