By Winston Peters
Providing adequate funding for elderly rest home services has the National Government doing its own version of the David Campese Goosestep to try and avoid the issue.
New Zealand First has today submitted its Social Security (CPI Indexation of Long-term Residential Care Subsidy) Amendment Bill into the Ballot. If drawn and passed in Parliament, it would ensure Government funding for eldercare services keeps pace with the annual rate of inflation.
It recognises the relationship between the value we place on carers who tend to the aged which reflects the value we place on vulnerable senior citizens.
The Bill would provide annual inflation-adjusted increases in Government funding to ensure staffing levels are appropriate and that staff receive on-going training. This would lead to the direct improvement in the quality of care for elderly patients.
Make no mistake, these rest home workers deserve our admiration and thanks for the tasks they must carry out as part of their daily work routines. And it’s not as if they are suddenly going to run out of work to do.
Statistics reveal that each year about 40,000 elderly New Zealanders receive rest home, dementia or hospital level care in about 680 aged residential care facilities. More than 30,000 of these residents qualify for an aged residential care subsidy.
We are acutely aware that New Zealand, like the rest of the western world, has an ageing population which will place even more stress on elder-care facilities and workers.
That is why the Bill is so badly needed – to encourage necessary re-investment in the elder-care sector so it can adequately meet those future demands.
We can clearly see the problems facing the country and as our Member’s Bill shows we are coming up with realistic solutions.
However, situations can change in ways that are both foreseeable and unimaginable. That is why the Bill has a back-up clause to provide an industry-led review every three years.
There will also be appropriate regulatory oversight to ensure that funding is allocated for the purpose intended – such as maintaining care workers’ wages and improving maintenance of residential care facilities.
To put it quite simply, our senior citizens must be treated with respect and dignity and not as a burden on society. Our Bill provides a good step down that path and we see no good reason why all parties in Parliament should not come on the journey with us.