Petition started to reinstate home-care services for elderly

Grey Power Southland secretary Stephnie de Ruyter with a petition asking for recently cut in-home...
Grey Power Southland secretary Stephnie de Ruyter with a petition asking for recently cut in-home care services to be reinstated. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO
A petition to reinstate some recently cut in-home care services for the elderly in Southland seems to have struck a chord.

Grey Power Southland secretary Stephnie de Ruyter decided to start the petition after she received more than 70 complaints after the Royal District Nursing Service cut home support time in May.

The home-based healthcare provider is contracted by the Southern District Health Board.

"Some clients had their one-hour weekly appointment reduced to a fortnight. Others had a cut of their time. If they had a half-hour visit, now they have only 15 minutes. They were very concerned."

Feedback on the petition had been very positive.

"I don't know exactly how many signatures [there are] as it is all over the place. But we already have hundreds ... probably thousand of signatures."

The document, which asks for the cuts to be reversed and for a review of the contract with the Royal District Nursing Service, will be presented to the SDHB by the end of the month.

Ms De Ruyter said this week she had positive meetings with the company and with the health board.

"SDHB heard our concerns and said it would have regular meetings to monitor the situation. But we will deliver the document anyway."

Sandra Wilson was one of the people who complained to Grey Power about the cut of the services for her mother, Evelyn Tekoeti​ (88), of Invercargill, who has macular degeneration.

She said since she raised her concerns, the nursing service had reinstated some of her mother's hours.

"She had 5.45 hours a week for personal care, medicines and house cleaning. They cut it to 1.45 hours a week, but now they've reinstated it to 2.5 hours. It's better but it is concerning, this situation."

Royal District Nursing Service NZ chief executive Carmel Conaghan said since 2013 it had worked as part of an alliance of providers and the health board to ensure the safe delivery of services.

"Under the restorative care model, which works to restore clients to independence, we routinely review each client's health and support needs to ensure services are provided to the appropriate level."

She encouraged any client with questions or concerns to contact the service.

SDHB community services general manager Glenn Symon said there had been no board funding cuts to any home and community support service agencies.

The reviews and the resulting support packages were initiated, executed and communicated by the agencies, he said.

"We do monitor actual hours of service delivery from our agencies and we have not seen any significant changes in recent reporting. If agencies are, on average, providing more or less services, we look at best practice to get the most value for our contract from all agencies."

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