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Don't wait, save Aged Care now

7 December 2004

Don't wait, save Aged Care now

Green MPs Sue Bradford and Sue Kedgley are today challenging the Government in the House to take immediate action to avert the funding crisis in Aged Care.

The Greens are raising the issue on the same day that the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation and the Service and Food Workers' Union are launching the 'Fair Share for Aged Care' campaign. Just last week the Salvation Army announced they are selling 12 rest homes next year because they cannot afford to run them and tonight the Pahiatua community is meeting to try and head off the imminent closure of the Waireka Home, their local Aged Care facility. Both set backs are being blamed on the 20 per cent shortfall between government funding and the cost of running such facilities.

"These threatened closures show that the Aged Care crisis is rapidly getting worse and that it is simply not an option for the Government to wait until next year's Budget before they do something about it," said Ms Bradford, the Green Party's Social Services Spokesperson.

"The Government must immediately increase funding to community-based rest homes. But a complete overhaul of the way non-commercial Aged Care is funded and operates is what is really needed."

Green Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said the lot of workers looking after our senior citizens, both in their own homes and at residential facilities, needs to be urgently addressed.

"It is a huge pay equity issue. Most homecare workers have to pay their own travel costs, so a workforce mostly made up of older women is effectively subsidising the cost of these services directly from their own meagre wages. The Government must demand that District Health Boards meet homecare workers travel costs and increase all Aged Care workers' pay rates.

"There is a clear disconnection between the Government's Positive Aging Strategy and the grim reality in the Aged Care sector," said Ms Kedgley.

Ms Bradford: "I'm not convinced that Labour wants to see care of the elderly end up fully privatised and run for profit, but unless they act soon their neglect is going to lead there by default. They need to make their minds up as to exactly what the State's role is going to be."

"The Green Party continues to support the workers, the elderly and people with disabilities and the community service groups in their bid to improve the funding and training arrangements for these essential services."


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