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Care Shortage Makes Christmas A Hard Time

26 December 2006

Respite Care Shortage Makes Christmas A Hard Time For Many

Families seeking respite care for their elderly parents are being turned away because of an ongoing shortage of beds, HealthCare Providers NZ said today.

“The Christmas New Year break can be very stressful for families with an elderly relative who needs full-time care,” Chief Executive Martin Taylor said. An ongoing shortage in respite care beds and other short stay options means many family caregivers and their elderly parents or grandparents will have no break these Christmas/New Year holidays.

“Many elderly will not get the care they need when they need it and the people who look after them at home won’t get the break that many desperately need over the holiday period,” Mr Taylor said.

“Our members have been reporting numbers of enquires over the last few months from families trying to organise short stays for elderly family members over the holiday period. Unfortunately, in many cases they are being turned away.”

The shortage of respite care beds has not been helped by the problems in the Homecare sector, which also struggles to maintain service levels over holiday periods.

“District Health Boards believe that providing respite care is just a matter of allocating one or two week entitlements, regardless of the availability,” Mr Taylor said. “What they don’t understand is that this leads to a situation where the elderly have the funding for respite care but can’t get any because there are no available beds.”

Mr Taylor said this problem would only get worse as population-driven demand increases. “Right now, there are no new beds being built in the sector, meaning respite care bed numbers are decreasing in real terms.”

HealthCare Providers believes the Government needs to accept the problem and provide a measured response when the “Sustainability Report into Aged Care” is released. “We have been told this report will measure current demand and model future usage, and then propose viable solutions,” he said.

“The Government’s Ageing in Place strategy relies on the availability of short-term stays in aged residential care facilities. As such, the whole issue of respite care availability needs to be looked at on a national basis and addressed.”


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