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Action Needed To Value Our Elders

1 October 2004

Action Needed To Value Our Elders: U.N. International Day Of Older Persons

October 1 is the United Nation’s celebration of the International Day of Older Persons. This provides New Zealanders with the opportunity to celebrate and honour our older people.

But unless the Government takes urgent action, New Zealand risks being able to celebrate success for only the wealthy and healthy on Older Persons’ Day, according to the NZ Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS).

According to NZCCSS spokesperson Gillian Bremner, the Government needs to take action to better honour vulnerable older people and the workers who care for them. If this does not occur, NZCCSS warns that religious and welfare service providers may be unable to continue providing essential services for our older people.

“We need to honour, value and support older people by ensuring they can access services that enable them to have control over their lives. NZCCSS is concerned that older people in some communities may be left without services in the future. This is because, as acknowledged by the government, the subsidy is insufficient to cover the cost of the services required. And many community agencies can no longer afford to make up the funding shortfall” according to Ms Bremner.

Christian social services are also extremely concerned about the wages and conditions of the workforce, primarily women, who care for older people. “Workers who support people in their home earn close to the minimum wage, are not compensated for travel time to clients’ homes, and are expected to cover their own transport costs.

This amounts to exploitation. These carers undertake critically important physical and emotional work, and require increasingly high skill levels”, explained Ms Bremner. “It is imperative that Government funding in the aged care sector is increased to a level that allows us to offer care-workers humane training, pay and conditions.”

ENDS

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