Taranaki hails $20 million hospice funding pledge
A potential funding boost of $20 million for hospice care in New Zealand has been given the thumbs up in Taranaki.
Hospice Taranaki chief executive Kevin Nielsen said he was "absolutely delighted" with an announcement made on Wednesday by Health Minister Tony Ryall regarding a proposed funding boost of $20 million a year to provide more hospice palliative care services throughout New Zealand if National were re-elected next month.
Nielsen said though detailed information about the proposed funding was still to come, the move signalled a desire to address the issue of New Zealand's ageing population and the need to invest in local services to meet increased demand.
"This will certainly enable us to put more resources into aspects of what we already do," he said.
Hospice Taranaki offers free in-patient and community care in the region, along with a range of other services, including family support groups and a 24-hour phone line.
Nielsen said while about 50 per cent of the cost of its service was covered by a contract with the Taranaki District Health Board, the funding shortfall was managed through donations, income from the region's four hospice shops, grants and other fundraising.
As a member of the Hospice New Zealand executive board, Nielsen said he was well aware of the pressure on the health dollar but felt Ryall's proposal acknowledged the demand services like hospice and aged care faced over the next 20 years when the population of those aged over 65 doubled in size.
"More people will be coming to the end of their life and will need end-of-life care," he said.
Nielsen said another aspect of the announcement he was pleased with involved the creation of 60 new palliative care nurse specialist and educator roles, which would provide support and guidance to other staff employed in the aged residential care or home support sectors.
"There seems to be an emphasis about extending the support that is available in the community," he said.
Nielsen said the bulk of the work undertaken by Hospice Taranaki staff was undertaken in the community. In the past 12 months, he said the hospice service had supported about 550 people as well as the many family and whanau members involved.
"It touches a lot of lives."
Every year 15,000 people receive care and support from hospice services throughout New Zealand and more than 145,000 people are visited in their homes.
Taranaki Daily News