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Kimberley Residents To Be Resettled In Community

Minister for Disability Issues Ruth Dyson announced today (Wednesday, 5 September) that all residents at the Kimberley Centre in Levin would be resettled in the community over the next four years, and the centre would close.

Ms Dyson said the decision was a positive one for the 375 people with intellectual disabilities who live at Kimberley.

"Caring for people with disabilities in large institutions is no longer appropriate. The Kimberley residents have the right to live in the community like everyone else, with the necessary support to meet their personal, medical and social needs."

Ms Dyson said the next eight months would be spent planning for deinstitutionalisation, and the resettlement of residents would happen gradually between June 2002 and March 2005.

"Past decisions to resettle people with disabilities from institutions into the community were not always as well-planned as they should have been. I am determined this will not happen with Kimberley.

"No residents will leave Kimberley until appropriate support is in place. We will provide 24-hour care, as well as a range of specialist services for those who need them. Each resident's personal friendships, gender, skills, age and particular preferences will be taken into account when deciding where they will live.

"I also want to make it very clear that no families will be asked to take their family member home to live with them."

Ms Dyson said the decision to close Kimberley was not a cost-cutting exercise and the government would continue to meet the full costs of services for people when they moved into the community.

Ruth Dyson said the decision to close Kimberley ended a decade of uncertainty for residents, families and staff at Kimberley.

"Kimberley has been put in the too-hard basket for too long. This has caused a lot of anxiety, and I am delighted that a positive decision has finally been made that will provide a better future for people with intellectual disabilities."

Ms Dyson said an enormous amount of work had gone into making the decision.

"The needs of each resident were individually assessed and there was wide consultation with families.

"A project working group representing all stakeholders was also set up. Our decision to close Kimberley is based on the group's recommendation for full deinstitutionalisation."

Ruth Dyson said, in particular, she wanted to thank the representatives of the Kimberley Parents and Friends Association for their constructive efforts to reach a solution which addressed the needs and concerns of both residents and families.

"The continuing input of residents, families and other interested parties is essential. A steering group - including KPFA representatives, independent advocates and Maori – will oversee and advise the project transition team managing the placement of residents and provision of appropriate services.

"The government will also fund an advocacy service for residents and families during the transition period."

The Ministry of Health has set up a 24-hour freephone information service for families wanting to know more about the announcement and what it will mean for their family members. The phone number is 0800 371 609.

Ruth Dyson commended the staff at Kimberley for their professional approach during a difficult period.

"Staff have worked extremely hard to care for residents in spite of the uncertainty about their own jobs and the future of Kimberley. Their continued involvement is essential for the successful resettlement of residents in the community."

Ms Dyson said the decision to close Kimberley is in line with the New Zealand Disability Strategy. The strategy outlines the prerequisites for an inclusive society, including that 'community-based services ensure that people with disabilities are supported to live in their own communities, and institutionalisation is eliminated'.


Ends


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