Fight for home help

00:24, Dec 26 2012
Southland Times photo
Disability Resource Centre Southland general manager Debbie Webster is fighting to keep the centre from losing its contract with the Southern District Health Board.

The general manager of Resource Disability Centre Southland says she will fight the Southern District Health Board's decision to dump their home help service after 15 years, to replace it with an Australian-owned company.

The health board announced on Thursday that three home help providers had been contracted.

Resource Disability Centre Southland (RDCS) and Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO) had together been contracted by the DHB to provide home help to about 4600 people in the Southern health district for the last 15 years.

While contracts for Access Homehealth and Healthcare of New Zealand will continue, the PSO contract will not.

Debbie Webster said getting the news their contract had been dropped, and the  Australian-owned company Royal Nursing Service been picked up instead, was devastating for both staff and clients.

While the 220 Southland staff affected would be transferred to the new provider, clients in the rural areas were worried, she said.

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The hope was that the DHB might reconsider and pick them up as a fourth provider, she said.

She hoped if the RDCS and PSA together  ''rattled enough cages'' the DHB would listen to them.

Executive Director Finance and Funding Robert Mackway-Jones would not comment on why the DHB had dropped the Southern providers, but Mrs Webster said talks this last week were vaguely promising.

We see a crack in the door - it's a matter of pushing that door open [to be a fourth provider].''

''The PSA isn't going down without a fight...talks [with the DHB] are still moving along.'' 

Mr Mackway-Jones said there had been ''a robust'' tender process to select providers best able to deliver the new model of care.

The model was about improving services and flexibility for clients. The change would mean that services were also more equitable, he said.

The Southland Times