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Age Concern welcomes Carers' Strategy

Age Concern welcomes Carers' Strategy
29/4/2008


The new Government strategy for family carers signals more support for older people acting as carers as well as older people receiving care.

Age Concern is part of the New Zealand Carers Alliance, a coalition of 47 national non-profits supporting families with health and disability needs. At least twelve percent of carers are aged 65 or older.

John Forman, chair of the Alliance, says we can all expect to receive or provide family support during our lives.

"Caring is a fact of life for every New Zealander, but often we are ill-equipped to provide this support for loved ones. Carers need quality, consistent learning so they can care safely. They need to be recognised by society for their valuable economic role as the country's biggest health workforce. And they need supports just for them, because caring can be a demanding role."

The Strategy will deliver practical help, and celebrate the role of caring, which is easy to take for granted because it's something families have always done for those who are ill, disabled, vulnerable, or frail.

"Supports for carers have not kept pace with policy shifts such as ageing in place and community care. The Strategy will help to balance some of the stresses families are experiencing at home, at work, and when seeking help from agencies."

Age Concern especially welcomes the Government's commitment to review financial and respite supports for families during the Carers' Strategy's five year Action Plan.

Having regular breaks is important for carers, otherwise they burn out and can't continue. Access to quality, age-appropriate services was one of the major concerns expressed by carers during the Strategy consultation.

The unpaid work of family carers has an annual economic value to New Zealand of "hundreds of millions, if not billions" and priceless social value.

Caring for those we love or feel a duty toward is a bedrock value in our society. Other countries have carer allowances and we believe New Zealand should too.

Access to quality, nationally consistent learning, and information, were other priorities for carers. A survey carried out by national non-profit Carers NZ, Secretariat for the Carers Alliance, found that 42% of carers are injured in their role. Another survey found that more than 90% of carers experience depression. ACC has agreed to lead the development of a national wellness and learning programme for carers as part of the Strategy Action Plan.

The Carers' Strategy was launched by Hon Ruth Dyson at Parliament on 28 April. The Government says the Strategy Action Plan is the first of future action plans to ensure ongoing focus on carers.

 
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