Unified voice for carers

7 August 2018

The focus is to create a unified and clear voice to government for all carers’ rights.

Four key priorities areas include:

  • Ministry of Health’s Funded Family Care policy
  • Respite Care policy
  • Continence Issues (choice and dignity)
  • Improvement of current Flexible Funding mechanisms and processes (Carer Support and Individualised Funding and its variants)

The Carers Alliance is dedicated to working with the Government to enable supports for carers that can provide real choice and flexibility, offering workable solutions for varied needs that allows a clear, user friendly and fair and equitable process. Being able to have choices for carers so to purchase what is needed to help their loved ones and themselves. This may mean a trampoline for a child to keep them active and entertained or being able to pay family members for carer support instead of strangers. Whatever the needs are the system needs to have in-built purchasing processes to allow this to occur and currently that is not the case.

The review and update for the five year Carers' Strategy Action Plan provides a perfect opportunity to complete a thorough review and analysis of the current system, and to work through any barriers to develop achievable solutions for the most effective and functional system possible for carers.

The Carers Alliance believes in offering evidence-based information to Government to inform and ensure the most effective direction is taken for future benefits. As such it completed a detailed Sapere report in April 2018 highlighting key areas of concern around current Funded Family Care processes. Results from this report aligned with our own NZORD survey of support groups which ranked as a key priority more support to navigate the complexity of the healthcare system.

Other issues raised included:

  • Inequitable pay rates for family members which are lower than those for home care agencies;
  • Spouse or civil union partner cannot be paid as a carer although ACC does pay family members;
  • Assessment processes prescriptive to the number of hours or per task rather than based on person’s needs.

The future of respite care was also discussed by the Carers Alliance with a new report to be completed by Synergia to pull together data and gain insights into respite care. Once completed this report will offer recommendations for improvements and more effective, stream-lined practices. This may include flexible assessment practices, so carers different and specific needs can be addressed. The hope is for a new integrated process for funding carers needs which can work across many departments in a horizontal collective manner rather than vertical and restrictive way – joined-up respite care across Government. 

A survey looking at issues around managing continence issues will be coming soon and this can then offer awareness of the challenges and successes happening out there for carers and their families.