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Budget 2006: Caring for older New Zealanders

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

Caring for older New Zealanders

Budget 2006 delivers $126 million over the next four years towards improving home-based support services and age-related residential care for older New Zealanders, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

This comprises $58 million for home-based support services and $68 million for age-related residential care. The increase is on top of the $39.5 million Future Funding Track and demographic pressures funding provided for the wider aged care sector for 2006/07.

The funds will be distributed to DHBs according to the population-based funding formula which then negotiate with providers of aged care services.

The funding boost is historic not only for it's size but for its emphasis on the services sought by the ever-growing number of New Zealanders who wish to remain in their homes for as long as possible.

"Ensuring healthy lives for New Zealand families means ensuring quality lives for all older New Zealanders," Pete Hodgson said. "Older New Zealanders deserve more than just access to high-quality health and support services. They deserve choices about the kind of services they want to access."

Pete Hodgson said that New Zealand had been slow during the 1990s to recognise the growing trend of older people choosing to remain in their homes. "In Australia and the UK, around 30 per cent of aged care funding goes to home-based support services. In New Zealand that figure is less than 18 per cent. As the government has invested in home-based support services we have started to see movement in the low wages for workers and improvement in the quality of care. This budget continues the good work.

"At the same time we have invested further in residential care for those older New Zealanders who need and choose this option.

"The aged care funding package in Budget 2006 should allow for significant pay increases for New Zealanders working in the sector.

"Anyone who values investment in the health of older New Zealanders should be pleased that we have a Labour-led government that is able to invest so heavily in aged care. I thank New Zealand First and United Future and for their active support on these issues."

ENDS

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