Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

New scheme will pit disabled people against loved ones - group

Cliff Robinson with his intellectually disabled children John and Marita, both in their 40s, whom he cares for full-time at their home in Thames. Photo / Natalie Slade
Cliff Robinson with his intellectually disabled children John and Marita, both in their 40s, whom he cares for full-time at their home in Thames. Photo / Natalie Slade

A Government scheme which puts the onus on disabled people to hire a family member as their carer will end up pitting disabled people against their loved ones, the New Zealand Carers Alliance says.

The group has responded to a the Funded Family Care Notice, published in the New Zealand Gazette, which detailed how the Government's $92 million policy of paying family carers would be implemented.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the Notice set out the terms and conditions on which eligible adult disabled people were allocated Ministry of Health funding to employ certain family carers for care and household management services.

"As the funding will enable around 1600 disabled adults to pay family carers, it will take the NASC (Needs Assessment and Service Coordination) organisations some weeks to complete the assessments and eligible family members to start to receive payments.

The Notice said the Ministry would pay the disabled person for funded family care, who would then employ a family carer to provide that care. The disabled person and the family carer would also need to prepare an individual service arrangement.

NZ Carers Alliance chairman John Forman said the carers who qualified were in many cases also the disabled person's parent - putting the decision-making on the shoulders of a person who may be severely or profoundly disabled.

It would introduce an employment aspect into the relationship, which could sour the family dynamic, he said.

The disabled person would also have to oversee compliance tasks such as ACC levies and Kiwisaver contributions.

"In addition, there are so many service and compliance layers that it will cost a fortune to monitor.''

The best that could be said of the scheme is that there are 1600 carers who will be paid the minimum wage for some of their work, he said.

It was a "cheap and dirty'' response to a major social policy issue, and a raw deal for carers and those they support, Mr Forman said.

"A more workable solution would have been for family carers to be paid directly by the Government as independent contractors.

"This would have been far more practical, and respectful of the carer and the disabled person,'' he said.

The scheme comes into effect on Tuesday.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 31 Oct 2014 19:30:56 Processing Time: 581ms