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HBDHB committed to supporting older people live at home

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board will continue to support elderly and vulnerable people in the community who need assistance with basic housework and is working with its home support providers to contact all clients sent a letter this week.

The DHB’s Executive Director Planning and Funding, Chris Ash, said today the DHB had been made aware of many people who had received its letter advising basic housework support would cease, yet were in no position to undertake their own basic housework duties (such as vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms).

“The DHB is committed to supporting older people to live in their own homes for as long as they can and is disappointed letters have gone out to people who genuinely still require this support,” said Mr Ash.

“We unreservedly apologise for this and accept the assessment process has not been robust enough. As a result, we have put extra people in place through our needs assessment service to help manage client reviews and are reinstating services immediately for clients who have already phoned the service to advise they cannot live safely and independently at home without it.

“As a further measure, the DHB has also asked providers to make contact with all affected clients to assist them in being reassessed for support, and if they feel they still need it, to reinstate their services until reviews are undertaken.”

Last year Hawke’s Bay DHB undertook a review of the service working with providers and other key stakeholders to ensure eligibility was standardised for all clients, so those who needed basic housework support, such as vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms, received it.

People are eligible for housework support for various reasons and reviews are needed to ensure adequate support is continuing to be provided to those who need it most. For example, some people need short term support for a variety of medical conditions, and once they improve, they no longer need it.

Mr Ash said the criteria for people who had been referred for home management related to their ability to manage household tasks and was assessed on an individual basis, taking into account their living situation, medical diagnoses and what other health supports they were receiving. Any exceptional circumstances were also taken into account as part of the individual situation of each person.

“We acknowledge some elderly people who receive the letter may not want to phone or seem a nuisance, yet they could be one of the affected clients who should never have received the letter in the first place,” explained Mr Ash.

“We apologise to individuals and their families as we recognise this is an upsetting time for clients who still genuinely require the support.

“If our clinical team determine through reassessments that services should remain for a client, they absolutely will,” he said.

Mr Ash also wanted to front-foot the DHB’s suggestion of using housework tasks as part of keeping healthy and active in its letter.

“Maintaining mobility and being active is widely recognised by health professionals as being beneficial to helping older people to remain living in their homes for longer. However, the DHB accepts that receiving this information within the context of the letter has been upsetting for those people who still need this support and we apologise for this.

“The intention was to encourage those who are mobile and can be active, not be disrespectful in any way to people who are not, and still genuinely require the support.”

Anyone who has received the letter and is concerned support is stopping for them can make contact with the district health board’s needs assessment service, as outlined in the letter (Ph: 870-7485 Ext 5221), if they feel they still need this support in order to stay living safely and independently in at home. Alternatively, a provider will contact them to discuss their needs directly and work with the DHB to log a reassessment request.

After phoning the needs assessment service, clients go through a triage process over the phone to gather further information, before a private home visit is organised to reassess their needs.


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