Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Lost nest eggs add to DHB's care problems

The Waikato DHB is worried about the elderly. Photo  / APN
The Waikato DHB is worried about the elderly. Photo / APN

The loss of $8.5 billion by "mum and dad" investors in dozens of failed finance companies has Waikato District Health Board worried about the effect on the cost of healthcare for the elderly.

Since 2006 more than 50 finance companies have collapsed or defaulted stripping thousands of Kiwis on the verge of retirement of their hard-earned nest eggs.

At a board committee meeting yesterday, members heard that $102 million was spent annually in the region on aged care.

Board chairman Graeme Milne raised concerns over the collapses and the flow-on effect.

"Many billion dollars of investment was lost," he said. "A lot were mum and dad investors and that is their retirement nest egg.

"To some extent that is going to have an impact on people's ability to look after themselves in their old age."

Mr Milne asked if evidence of the effect had filtered through the system yet.

Each district health board pays for its elderly to live in residential care such as a rest home if they require it.

In the Waikato, about one third of residents pay for the care themselves, one third are subsidised and the other third are paid for by the DHB and patients' superannuation.

In Hamilton, the daily cost of age-related residential care is: rest home, $105; dementia care, $142; residential hospital, $179; psychogeriatric, $199.

This costs the region's health board $64 million a year.

The board also spent $12.29 million on in-patient assessment, transition and rehabilitation services, $16.8 million on home and community support services and $1.57 million on respite care.

Of the total $102 million, $18.3 million worth of services were provided by Health Waikato, and the balance was provided by 65 non-government organisations.

The spending was 10.3 per cent of the total Waikato DHB funding.

Mr Milne said while the DHB was there as a "support mechanism", there was concern about the possible implications of the demise of so many finance companies during the past six years.

"If they haven't got sufficient assets to pay themselves then the DHB pays."

Yesterday's presentation showed the board's over-65 population was projected to increase by more than 16,500 people, from 52,000 people now to almost 69,000 people in 2021.

The over-85 population would increase by more than 2000 during the same time.

Board member Ewan Wilson said aged care presented a significant challenge with which the DHB was barely coping.

A report into the effect of failed finance companies on the health board's costs for aged care will be presented to the next community and public health and disability support advisory committee meeting in July.

AGED CARE COST

* Older people's services cost Waikato DHB $102 million annually
* $64 million of this covers rest homes, hospitals, and dementia facilities.
* Over-65s predicted to be one in five in 10 to 20 years.
* DHB wants report into whether failed finance companies have stripped investors of ability to pay for aged care.

- NZ Herald

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