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Budget confirms elderly must save for future

Media Statement                                                                            May 21, 2010

Budget confirms elderly New Zealand couples must save for future


New Zealand’s aging population will likely face further cuts by the government in the future, says industry leader Miranda Smith.

Responding to the Budget Ms Smith said elderly New Zealanders should plan to stay in their own homes for as long as possible with government unlikely to be in a position to help fund the fast-growing elderly population into the future.

“Elderly couples who manage to stay in their home have far greater flexibility over how much money they spend on care,” Ms Smith said.

Budget figures show health will get $1.95 billion in operating costs over the next four years. That is just under $500 million annually - $250m less a year than the increase in last year's budget.

Retirement Homes currently charge an average of around $2000 per week without a subsidy for a double room with a toilet. This compares with around $800 per week for daily in-home visits by a private carer.

Ms Smith said elderly using in-home care were able to handle the costs of care based on their changing needs.

“Elderly couples who manage to stay in their home have far greater flexibility over how much money they spend on care,” Ms Smith said.

“They are also much more likely to stay fit, healthy and happy in their own homes.”

However Ms Smith warned that if people wanted to stay in their homes it was imperative they had the funds saved to continue this lifestyle.

“This Budget has left us in no doubt that the government cannot continue to subsidise the country’s growing aging population.”

“It’s only a matter of time before private care will be the only option,” she said.

Ms Smith said it was imperative that DHB’s starting talking to different  private providers about ways of offering care to the elderly community.

“A variety of providers will allow healthy competition to continue and ensure a better community service going forward.”

 Ms Smith recently called for an urgent think tank on the way forward for care of the elderly with a need to find ways to reduce our health system debt without compromising the quality of care to the elderly. 

“A think tank will take ideas from all these organisations and encourage competition to drive better efficiencies and pricing. 

“We need to work together to achieve better results and be better equipped for a generation that will soon be more than a quarter of our population.”

Ms Smith said more community involvement and treatment would reduce the level of dependency on hospital admissions. 

“We have an aging population and it is only going to become more difficult for DHB’s and the public sector to care and manage these clients”, Ms Smith said.

“It’s time the government, independent providers and community services developed a strategy together to reflect the overwhelming desire of the elderly to remain independent in their own homes”, Ms Smith said.
 

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