This health crisis centres on the rapidly growing prevalence of dementia mate wareware, and the totally inadequate Government support/funding for the dementia mate wareware sector over many years.
We asked Political Parties several policy questions in the lead up to the 2023 General Election to understand where dementia mate wareware is on their agenda.
Here are the responses from Labour, National, Greens and TOP. We are still waiting to hear from ACT, Te Pāti Māori and NZ First and will share these when we receive a response.
1. Will your Government fund implementation of the Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan that was endorsed by the current Government? If you do not have plans to do that, can you please explain why, and tell us what you will do to tackle the growing dementia mate wareware health crisis?
Labour is committed to supporting and encouraging improvements to services for the Dementia community. The Labour Party’s election manifesto has not yet been released in its entirety. We will clarify our commitments closer to the election.
In 2020, we made a manifesto commitment to support the implementation of the Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan. The Plan was endorsed by the Labour Government Cabinet in November 2021.
One of the objectives of the Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan is to strengthen leadership and capability across the sector. As part of our mahi, the Leadership and Advisory Group and the Dementia Network have been established. We’ve also allocated $12 million dollars over four years to begin testing improvements and innovations in support in three critical areas: post-diagnostic supports, Dementia Navigators, and innovative respite care. This initiative seeks to improve access to culturally safe supports for Māori, Pacific and people with younger onset Dementia. It will also provide us with good evidence about what works.
Until we know the true state of the Government’s finance, we are unable to make funding commitments on current Government policy. National will announce our full health manifesto in the coming weeks.
The Green Party supports the Dementia Mate Wareware Action plan and shares its vision for “an Aotearoa New Zealand in which dementia mate wareware is prevented as much as possible; and where people living with dementia mate wareware, their family and whānau, and care partners receive the support they need to live their best possible lives, with autonomy, meaning and dignity.”
As stated in the Action Plan, this plan – which highlights urgent steps for the next five years – must be the first of many if we are to achieve the shared vision outlined above. In the next term of Parliament, the Green Party will work with the sector to implement and continue to build on this plan, creating and adequately resourcing a long-term strategy to improve dementia treatment and care services.
Your plan looks good and we are happy to support that. The issues are then:
- Income support.
- Re-prioritize spending/increase taxes.
- Train more care workers and improve pay/conditions.
- Universal basic income will support family carers.
2. What will your government do to ensure that community-based health services for older people are adequately funded including those that support people with dementia mate wareware?
Healthy Ageing is a key focus area of Te Pae Tata (The Interim New Zealand Health Plan). It outlines the need for stronger primary and community care to support the health of all New Zealanders in the community, including those living with Dementia.
In July, we changed the Carer Support Subsidy to better recognise carers’ important work and to improve the lives of those they care for. Under the changes, the daily rate of the Carer Support Subsidy lifts from $64.50 in some regions to a minimum of $80 per day nationwide. Previously, carers could only claim one day’s worth of their annual allocation of the subsidy at a time. Now they can claim for multiple days’ worth at once. To take a break, carers can use the subsidy to compensate others living in the same household to provide respite or pay an external respite service. These changes benefit more than 14,000 existing carers.
Labour established an Aged Care Commissioner to coordinate a system-wide response to address problems in aged care services. The appointment delivers on our manifesto commitment.
New Zealand’s support workers make a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of some of our most vulnerable New Zealanders. The Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlements Amendment Act 2022 increased pay rates for support workers by 4.6 per cent. Last year, the Government made sure make sure homecare and support workers had the right to take a pay-equity claim, while at the same time protecting their current working conditions and delivering a pay rise.
National has already announced policy focusing on growing New Zealand health workforce such as nurses, midwives and doctors. Boosting our health workforce will fill the gaps in our sector, such as dementia care.
The Green Party will adequately fund community-based care, knowing that investing in preventative interventions and holistic care reduces costs long-term.
The Green Party will:
- Improve community-based care by providing adequate funding that recognises the full operational and capital costs involved, promotes national consistency, integration and collaboration between agencies, and enables community-based governance structures, as intended by the Primary Health Care Strategy.
- Support well-trained community health workers, parent support workers and other carers to engage with specific population groups and communities.
- Increase funding for aged care to provide for fair wages and address staffing shortages in aged care facilities, and work towards direct public provision of aged care facilities.
- Provide integrated community health services to support the wellbeing of kaumātua, including public housing designed for extended whānau, elder abuse prevention, and free enduring power of attorney services.
Refer to question one.
3. Will your government identify the ageing population as a priority for our health system? If yes, how will do you do that? If not, why not?
We want a national health and disability system that ensures equitable access to healthcare – regardless of who you are, or where you live. To achieve this, we need to recognise the diverse make up of our population and in particular, our ageing population. The number of people with Dementia is projected to more than double by 2050, and almost triple in Māori and Pacific communities.
Our country has an ageing population, and we expect demand for aged care services to increase. Labour is committed to fair pay, alongside recruitment and retention measures to help alleviate pressures on the aged care workforce. The Labour Government invested $200 million to reduce pay disparities between nurses working in different parts of the health system. Nurses in aged residential care, hospices, and home and community support services received a pay boost in April to demonstrate Labour’s commitment to supporting these important roles.
New Zealand’s health system now has thousands more health workers thanks to new visa pathways put in place by the Labour Government. A year on since the borders reopened more than 6300 overseas health workers have joined our health workforce through the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme and the Green List Straight to Residence pathways. This includes 2,500 nurses, and more than 2300 workers in the aged care, disabled and personal care sectors.
Rebuilding and strengthening our hospitals and healthcare facilities is vital to support an ageing population. Labour is planning and delivering on 110 health infrastructure projects nationwide worth a total of $7.7 billion. This includes new hospitals for Dunedin, Nelson and Whāngarei. The previous National Government left a legacy of massive underinvestment in health infrastructure. For two whole years National didn’t invest a single cent in health infrastructure, despite a growing and ageing population.
National acknowledges that the whole health system is in crisis and many areas need to be prioritised. Emergency departments and aged residential care are two priority areas.
The Green Party will identify the ageing population as a priority for our health system. We will restore and uphold the mana of our kaumātua, prioritise elderly well-being, and support and strengthen services for elderly people, including kaupapa Māori services.
Refer to question one.
4. What are your Government’s plan to properly support families, whānau and care partners who struggle financially, juggle care-giving duties and jeopardise their own health and wellbeing while caring for people with dementia mate wareware?
Labour is committed to making a real difference to ensuring people with dementia, their carers, and whānau can live good lives. Under Chris Hipkins, Labour’s number one priority is to make life easier for New Zealand families. Our cost-of-living plan will deal with the pressures whānau are facing right now.
Labour removed the $5 prescription fee to makes it easier and cheaper for New Zealanders to access the medicines they need. The 770,000 New Zealanders over the age of 65 who received prescription medicines last year no longer have to worry about the cost of collecting their medicine.
Labour will take GST off fruit and vegetables from 1 April next year, saving families around $20 a month. Labour will also lift the Working for Families abatement threshold to $50,000 meaning 175,000 families will gain on average an extra $47 a week, before the end of our next term. This will ensure families can keep more of this support when their pay increases or they pick up extra hours at work.
We’re helping more than one million New Zealanders stay warm through colder months with the Winter Energy Payment. A recent increase to the Rates Rebate Scheme will help ensure that approximately 100,000 low-income homeowners are able to pay their local council rates this coming financial year and provides financial relief for low-income New Zealanders owning their own home, including those living in retirement villages.
We understand the needs of families and support people who care for people with dementia. In collaboration with other government departments we will support the safety net that embraces wrap around services that provide relief
Care work is essential, and is chronically undervalued. The Green Party’s Income Guarantee will give everyone peace of mind that they can make ends meet if they must take time out of paid work to care for their loved ones. We will do this by guaranteeing everyone in and out of work at least $385 per week, with extra support for those who need it. The Green Party will also introduce a carer’s leave for those caring for dependent whānau.
We also acknowledge that women are more likely to undertake unpaid caring work, and that the continued undervaluing of this work is a major factor in gender inequity. To address this, we will regularly measure the gender split of unpaid work and include the value of unpaid work in our national economic statistics.
Refer to question one.
Last update: Tuesday 19 September 2023