Labour is looking to establish a Commissioner for Older Persons and to increasing funding for care for the elderly, leader David Cunliffe told an Age Concern conference yesterday.

He also said poorly paid aged care workers would benefit not only form an increase in the minimum wage in the first 100 days of Labour-led Government but another increase in April next year.

He talked about how his 89-year-old mother, Barbara, had been well to play golf until recently.

She was a constituent of Senior Citizens Minister Jo Goodhew, who was also at the conference, and lived alone in Timaru in her own flat.


"That has been supported by a few hours a week of in-home health care which was recently cut back and I know how much stress that put on her," said Mr Cunliffe "and I know she wont be the only one known to you who have had their care hours reduced."

Mr Cunliffe said allowing the elderly to stay in their own homes was good for them, their families and for the public purse.

It was far more economic to support people to live in their own homes than to move them into permanent care or hospital care before it was needed.

But they needed adequate levels of care and support.

"We will be looking very hard at increasing the number of care hours available to our seniors as they age."

He also said Labour would give "very favourable consideration" to establishing a Commissioner for Older Citizens as advocated by Age Concern.

"We are very sympathetic indeed to the idea of an aged care commissioner to better represent the interests of individual elder citizens and to make sure their needs are appropriately reflected in dealings both with the health system and with the aged care industry."

Jo Goodhew announced the expansion of specialist elder abuse and neglect prevention services, to Wairoa and Rotorua, which could also cover Kawerau.

The Government already funded 24 such services around the country at a cost of $1.6 million a year.

The $170,000 for the two new services will be found from savings in other parts of the Senior Citizens budget.