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Home help for elderly under attack

Hon Jim Anderton

Member of Parliament for Wigram
Progressive Leader

7 October 2009
Media Statement

More cuts under National - home help for elderly under attack

“Elderly people in my electorate are having their weekly home help cut while at the same time, fewer people are being funded to live in rest homes,” says Wigram MP and Progressive Leader, Jim Anderton.

Jim Anderton’s electorate office in Sydenham is receiving 15-20 calls a day from elderly people facing cuts, or concerned people worried about their neighbours.

“This is as a result of a decision made by the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB), following expenditure policies determined by the National government; the same government which made a commitment to help elderly New Zealanders stay in their homes and their communities longer. Now it is standing back while vital home services are cut, placing our most vulnerable elderly people at serious risk.”

Until now, elderly people who need it get help with basic domestic and personal activities like vacuuming and showering.

“As far as I know, these services are being cut in every other part of the country as well. I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you get a government that promises tax cuts, then you’re going to have less money to spend on essential services, and then there’s only one way to balance the books.”

“When my office contacted the CDHB, it was told that ‘families will need to take more responsibility for their elderly parents...If old people can’t go out shopping, there’s always on-line shopping; and if they can’t manage the cleaning they can just clean one room a day with a carpet sweeper.’ Well, I’d like to see my 90 year old constituent who has just had her help cut, carpet sweep the house on her walking frame!”

“This problem is going to get worse. More services for elderly people will be cut unless we are prepared to have a proper public policy debate to work out how we’re going to deal with the health and wellfare of the increasing numbers of ageing New Zealanders.”

“New Zealand needs a strong and viable aged and community care sector which helps older people remain independent in their homes as long as they want to and are capable of doing so. They then need access to an aged care facility if and when they need it,” says Jim Anderton.

ENDS

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