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Families fear for IHC loved ones

Nicola Willis, Shane Reti, and Ian McKelvie discuss the IHC review. PHOTO/SUE TEODORO

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National Party spokeswoman for Housing and Urban Development, list MP Nicola Willis, has discussed the review of IHC services with worried Wairarapa families.

National Party Deputy Leader and Health spokesman Dr Shane Reti and Ian McKelvie, MP for Rangitikei, were also at the Masterton meeting on Monday evening.

The brothers, sisters and parents of people affected by the IHC National Review of Services described their concern at the uncertainty the review is causing as well as the removal of services such as the closed Carterton day base.

“The family members here feel like they’ve lost something,” Willis said.

“Normally when a review happens, the goal should be to improve things.

“It seems the people in this room feel things have gone backwards for their loved ones and that is really sad.

“These people are advocating for their loved ones and they want to see them have dignity and be able to have a good life.”

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty said he had met several affected families and shared their concerns about the IHC decision not to use some day bases after lockdown last year and changing their operating model away from using day bases.

He said IHC had more work to do.

“I have written to the Minister on behalf of the families seeking to get some answers about next steps.

“IHC are in receipt of significant public funds and they need to be accountable for their decisions to the families and those most affected by their decisions. I’m right behind the families in trying to get more clarity and certainty from IHC.

“IHC has a long tradition of supporting some very vulnerable members of our community. And while nothing stays the same, change has to be very carefully negotiated to ensure people are taken with the change and not left worse off by it.”

Attendees at the meeting accepted funds were an issue but were disappointed services working well seemed to have been cut.

“What’s happened in Wairarapa is prior to covid, we had a service most of us thought was functioning reasonably well. IDEA services are now doing a review of that, and services have been cut back. It’s trying to do more with less,” one attendee said.

People referred repeatedly to the closed Carterton day base where people had been able to spend the day. It had provided structure as well as meaningful activities which meant their family members remained active in the community.

During lockdown, the day base was closed and had not reopened because of earthquake strengthening issues. Last month an email advised families the Carterton building was being sold and all day activities and programmes would be based in Masterton, which people were being supported to attend.

“It’s sad. The day base was fantastic. It provided a programme, and it was really vibrant. A lot of them have got too much time on their hands now.

“We are a very small voice. We are a minority,” a family member said.

People described how hard it was to watch their loved ones stay at home, lacking the social interaction they had before.

Bernadette Saywell is the sister of Catherine Scully who regularly used the closed day base.

“I want to be told why something hasn’t been done because IDEA services have taken away everything under the guise of covid,” she said.

“For an organisation that is supposed to be advocating for vulnerable people I can’t get my head around why they thought that was a good idea. Why couldn’t they have maintained the status quo while they were looking at these future disability strategies,” she asked.

Gina Rogers, IHC general manager, said consultation was under way and Carterton’s was the only day base that had closed.

“Our National Services Review work is continuing, and we are speaking to individuals, families and communities about what’s available, what they’d like to continue and what they would like to see change.

“We haven’t closed day bases except the Carterton base, which was closed because it needs earthquake strengthening.

“The other day bases in Wairarapa are still open and being utilised. All families and individuals have been offered services and we continue to talk with individuals and families,” she said.

IHC is presently holding workshops around New Zealand as part of its review strategy. Families have been told they will be kept informed as the review progresses.

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