Change of carer shocks clients

BY ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 10:37 12/02/2013

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Elderly clients of Christian home- support organisation Enliven are distressed by changes to their care this summer.

But Enliven says staffing changes were signalled in advance, and were necessary to conform to a strict new Capital & Coast District Health Board budget.

Clients of Enliven Positive Ageing Services, which is run by Presbyterian Support, had their carers changed two weeks before Christmas, says a carer who did not want to be identified.

The change was upsetting for many clients, some of whom had the same carer for a decade, our source says.

"They're very distressed.

"They feel very scared and vulnerable. They've built up a relationship with a particular support worker. They all got quite a shock."

Enliven provides home visits to 71 elderly, disabled and sick people in Porirua and Tawa, most of them referred by the public health service or ACC.

Thirty local carers visit anywhere from daily to fortnightly depending on clients' needs; helping with housework, meal preparation, and personal tasks like showering.

Enliven's rosters were changed to reduce travelling time for carers, who have now been assigned clients living close to their own homes and close to each other, says Shiva Kumar, Presbyterian Support's general manager of external relations.

Enliven's lower petrol payments helped the not-for-profit organisation meet a strict budget set by C & CDHB, which recently reduced its contractors from three to two, he says.

"We had to reorganise our resources. We saw some opportunities for improvements, efficiency gains."

The changes are beneficial to all - carers can now spend more time with each client, or see more clients overall, Mr Kumar says.

"We firmly believe it was worth doing it because in the longer term [clients and staff] benefit from it."

Clients were sent a letter in June telling them changes were coming, and staff were consulted in October, Mr Kumar says.

But our source says that though clients were told changes were coming, many had no idea their carers would be changed as a result.

"They weren't told specifically what it was going to mean for them. We were told there were going to be changes, and they certainly got them dumped on them," the carer says.

"It was a bit sudden and it just shows a lack of understanding."

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