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Alexander: Elderly care funding to survive

Thursday, 19 May 2005

Alexander: Elderly care funding to survive; more needed to thrive

United Future senior citizens spokesman Marc Alexander said he was reasonably happy with the $70.9 million boost to elderly residential care funding following on the back of United Future’s push for increased funding.

“Finally the Government is waking from it slumber on the crisis in aged residential care and taking action but this is funding to survive, not funding to thrive,” Mr Alexander said.

“Seventeen rest homes closed in the four months to February this year - that tells you about the problems the industry was facing and the lack of Government support,” he said.

The Budget announcement wasn’t the whole answer by any means, he said.

“The funding boost may stop rest homes from closing but it doesn’t allow them to plan for the future. Some Canterbury rest homes are at 98% occupancy levels, but they don’t have any room to grow despite the obvious need.

He said he was also pleased to see an $18.7 million increase in baseline funding for home-based support.

“Increasing numbers of older New Zealanders are choosing care in their own homes, so it is important that pay and conditions for workers are such that they are retained in this vital area,” he said.

United Future had also lobbied for research on the extent of elder abuse and was happy with the $3 million the Government had allotted.

“It’s very hidden in society and it must be addressed. That is important money for this nation in terms of how we value our elderly and what of society we are,” Mr Alexander said.

Ends.

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