Govt. Continues to Ignore Aged Care Rural Crisis
27 June 2005
Government Continues to Ignore Rural Crisis in Aged Care
Healthcare Providers Chief Executive Martin Taylor was disappointed that Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor failed to address the issue of aged residential care in his speech to the rural sector workshop today.
"While the Government has increased funding to improve general health services in rural communities it has ignored the elderly in rural areas. It is this group of people who are among the hardest hit by the Government's refusal to address the funding crisis in aged residential care."
"The government may be increasing accessibility to some services in rural areas. However, providers of residential aged care in rural areas are decreasing, due to this government's lack of action".
In information released through a written question, Associate Minister Pete Hodgson admitted there have been 37 rest homes have closed in the past two years.
"Although these figures were very general, by our estimate at least half of these closures have been in rural areas and this is a trend which is only going to increase unless this Government acts now.
"In rural areas, if providers shut their doors, it can mean there are no local services available for the very elderly who need 24 hour, 7 day a week care. Families would then be forced to provide that care themselves, or to travel long distances, meaning they have less ability to visit Grandma or Grandpa."
"If you are committed to looking after rural communities then you have to be committed to looking after that communities elderly and at present the levels of funding for aged residential are inadequate to support these commitments."
At the very least, aged care providers want the Hon. Pete Hodgson to clarify once and for how much of the budget 'boost' will actually flow through to them or if it is going to allocated to other services. "
At the moment we have no certainty whatsoever." said Martin Taylor CEO of HealthCare Providers NZ.