Shock at lack of support for disabled children
14 November 2006
Shock at lack of support for disabled children in Counties Manukau
Thirty five families of disabled people in Counties Manukau are bracing themselves for the closure of the last respite care facility in the region. They have been informed that Eastgate Community Trust in Pakuranga will close its doors for respite care in December due to lack of Ministry of Health funding and support.
Despite a recent meeting at Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis’ office with officials from the Ministry of Health and Taikura Trust, the parents who use the service and trustees of Eastgate have not been offered any hope.
Sue Price, a trustee and parent, says, ‘They don’t seem to have thought about our dependents at all. We need assured funding to keep the respite care service going. It costs nearly $1000 a week to have a person in residential care and we are asking for about $1500 per family a year. The rate the Ministry of Health pays to have a disabled person cared for on a daily basis is insulting – just over $75 per day. Who would work for that as a caregiver?’
Graeme Burman, a trustee and parent, says, ‘The Trust has long term plans for our dependent adult children. They are disabled and vulnerable and no one in the Ministry appears to have factored in the social need for this service to adults. It has been a frustrating, costly and difficult time,’ he said.
Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis supports the parents and believes the Ministry of Health has made a wrong decision. He says is not satisfied with the justification given for the decision and would be seeking a meeting with Health Minister Pete Hodgson.
“It is ridiculous for an official to come to my office and tell parents that there is nothing left for them. These are conscientious people who have done an outstanding job in bringing up their disabled children. Regretfully, it seems that government officials are walking away from their basic responsibilities. Quite frankly I am appalled at how the parents are being treated.’
Colleen Brown, a Manukau City councillor and parent of a disabled son at Eastgate, said, ‘All the Ministry official could do was to quote policy saying that we should use grandparents and family members for respite. It makes me angry that they don’t understand those people are no longer there for many of our disabled dependents.’
‘Eastgate supports a whole range of people, many of whom are supporting their adult children on their own. The Ministry’s told us that giving us money would mean taking funding away from other groups. This sort of emotional blackmail has been levelled at us right throughout our children’s lives. It’s just a code for saying we don’t want to plan for you and your families – go away. That’s completely unacceptable.’