An elderly Dunedin man's cry for help after
life-saving surgery has touched the hearts of Otago Daily
Times readers. Nigel Benson gets to the heart of the
Concerned Dunedin resident Sue Harvey speaks to HealthCare
New Zealand Dunedin manager Graeme Martin on behalf of
Cliff Rodger in his Northeast Valley flat yesterday. Photo
by Gerard O'Brien.
Offers of help flooded into the Otago Daily Times
yesterday, after our report highlighting the plight of Cliff
Mr Rodger feels he has been abandoned by the Southern
District Health Board since being discharged from Dunedin
Hospital last week following a heart attack.
''The head surgeon said I'd get three hours of home help a
week, until I got back on my feet. But, now all they're
offering me is one hour a week. It's elderly abuse and it's
corrupt,'' Mr Rodger said yesterday.
He said he had declined an offer from Southern District
Health Board service provider HealthCare New Zealand for one
hour's housework a week, because it was inadequate and did
not cover the basics, such as washing clothes and dishes.
Friends visited him on Monday to wash a large pile of dirty
dishes and he paid a laundromat to clean his clothes.
Opoho resident Sue Harvey was moved to visit Mr Rodger in his
Northeast Valley flat yesterday to offer a hand.
''My 91-year-old father is also recovering from surgery and
our family have encountered the failings of the system
ourselves,'' she said.
''The one-hour cleaning they provide is no more than lip
service. It's the least of the tasks that needs to be done.''
Mrs Harvey said the health system had failed Mr Rodger and
she would be keeping in contact with him.
''He is so hurt. It's a hurt man talking.''
While she was there, Mr Rodger was phoned by HealthCare New
Zealand Dunedin manager Graeme Martin, who confirmed the
single hour a week of help.
''Our hands are tied with funding with the DHB,'' Mr Martin
''We can only offer what we're funded to deliver.''
Many other readers contacted the ODT with offers of
''I'm more than happy to go spring-clean his house and help
him out,'' Nakita Lawrence said.
''I used to be a support worker. I know how badly-treated
people can get. It's so wrong.''
Sabine Campbell, Judy Griffiths, Gaynor Propsting, Christina
Simpson and Lydia Wetere were among more than a dozen people
to offer free help.
''How can I help this poor old man? I am a caregiver in a
rest-home. I am happy to go and help him out for free,''
Christine Anderson said.
Other readers expressed anger at the situation.
''What is New Zealand coming to, that an elderly patient can
be sent home without after-care?'' asked Dorothy O'Donnell.
''He has probably worked all his life and now that he is in
his twilight years he deserves better than this.
''That's not what New Zealand is supposed to be about,'' she
''I think it's appalling that anyone is sent home from
hospital like that. It makes me very sad,'' Kate Croy said.
''It's come to the point where they don't matter, which is
disgusting,'' Adrienne Ratcliff said.
''They brought us into this world. We should be doing
everything possible to look after them 100%.''
Others said Mr Rodger's situation was far from unique.
''This type of situation is far too common,'' Anita Wates
''Perhaps the authorities are under the wrong impression that
family will help pick up the pieces. If so, how wrong they
Even medical professionals felt health boards were failing in
their patient aftercare duty.
''My nana encountered the same thing after a cancer diagnosis
and no home help support, or anything,'' nurse Sarah Janssen
''Luckily, I'm a nurse and knew what to ask for, but many
elderly people don't.''
Retired Mosgiel couple Mike (73) and Bev (70) Smith said home
help was vital to many older people.
''We get an hour and a-half of help a week and it's very
important to us,'' Mrs Smith said.
''I think what's happened to Mr Rodger is disgusting.
''One hour a week is certainly not enough and I think he
should have at least one hour a day until he is strong enough
to care for himself.''
The Returned Services Association and social support
organisations also offered help to the former Territorial
''We are really concerned. It was very upsetting to read
about and we'll be contacting Mr Rodger,'' Age Concern
executive officer Susan Davidson said.
''Our health system is under pressure.
''The drive to meeting the bottom line is having a tremendous
impact on people like Mr Rodger and we have to ensure the
discharge of people like Mr Rodger from hospital does not
happen in such a way that he goes home without support,'' Ms
''Elderly people are due respect. One of the tests of a
people is how they treat their old.''
Contacted yesterday, Southern District Health Board
communications director Steve Addison said the board was
revisiting Mr Rodger's situation and hoped to arrive at a
more satisfactory outcome.