Inquiry into aged care

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For reasons peculiar to my family, I had more than my share of grandparents as a child. I was close to many of them.

The old people at the local church I attended made a fuss of me, and I also have positive early recollections of their willingness to make time and space for me in a way that busy parents could not.

Probably for these reasons, I’ve always enjoyed the company of seniors.

I don’t think my childhood was unusual in benefiting from the care of older persons.

Many people make significant contributions to our community as they age. This is something important to celebrate.

The golden years should give people more choices, but unfortunately – for entirely preventable reasons – sometimes that is not the case.

I believe that everyone deserves dignity in old age, and should have choices around whether they live in their own home or go into shared care facilities.

In 2010, Labour, Greens and Grey Power investigated the quality of aged care after concerns were raised by the Health and Disability Commissioner, in the media, and in a report on aged care by the Auditor-general.

20 nationwide meetings organised by Grey Power, which over 1200 people attended.

The report that was produced contained 14 key recommendations to improve the quality of aged care services, including a star rating system for aged care facilities, replacing telephone calls regarding home services with face-to-face assessments, and having consistent entitlement to home support services no matter where you live.

This year, we started a process of updating the review.

Starting in February and ending this month, Labour and Green MPs throughout the country have met with Grey Power to hear members’ submissions on issues they see facing the aged care sector and their own experiences using services within the public health system.

At each meeting so far we have heard from people that significant issues remain. That isn’t surprising given so few of the 2010 Aged Care report recommendations have been adopted.

Aged care, like other services, is facing the brunt of an underfunded health system, where $1.7 billion has been stripped out by this government over the past 6 years.

Today (Friday), a Dunedin meeting of the joint Labour-Greens inquiry into Aged Care will be held, hosted by Grey Power.

The meeting kicks off at 1pm at the Blind Foundation, 458 Hillside Rd. I fear we’ll hear more stories like the ones we’ve heard in other centres.

If you are a Grey Power member or keen to be involved, maybe I will see you there?

  • By Dunedin North MP David Clark