All of the elderly Hawke's Bay residents who received a letter advising their in-home help services were being cut will have their services reinstated.

But the Hawke's Bay District Health Board says it could take up to two weeks to rectify, leaving some anxiously waiting to see if cleaners turn up at their house or not this week.

The DHB has been under fire after Hawke's Bay Today revealed hundreds of elderly patients received a letter saying their in-home help would be cut.

The letter also suggested that doing housework yourself was a way to stay healthy.


The cut only affected people aged 65-plus who only received DHB-funded housework, and no other health-related support services.

The DHB apologised for the tone and for sending the letter to those who genuinely needed in-home help on Friday, and on Monday confirmed all 605 residents will have their in-home help reinstated.

Tamatea resident Colin Oemcke who only has 40 per cent vision, has arthritis and is currently waiting for a knee replacement, said he called the DHB after he received the letter of January 6.

He was told he could keep having his house cleaned once a fortnight if he paid $38 per hour, something which would not be possible on his fixed-income, although the DHB has now told him the service will continue for free.

He said on Monday he'd no confirmation from the DHB about when his services will return.

He said the ordeal had taken its toll, and he had not been getting more than a three to four hours sleep for the past several nights.

He had also attempted to clean his own place to see whether he could.

Stripping the bed and walking across the road to buy laundry powder had exhausted him, and he had to wipe the benches several times, as his limited vision meant he could not see how bad they were.


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Another woman who did not want to be named said Tuesday was the day she normally received home help but she is unsure whether it will turn up as planned, and has had to arrange for someone to come and remake her beds, as she has an operation on Wednesday and a clean bed is imperative to avoiding infection.

She is hoping the days have not changed but is waiting to hear from the DHB about it.

DHB Acting Executive Director Planning and Funding, Emma Foster said the DHB was working as "efficiently as possible to reinstate services in the home".

She asked for "understanding as our providers work hard to get their staff and rosters for these clients back on stream".

"We rely on our providers to help deliver this care in the home and we thank them for working with us through this next period."

All residents will receive an apology letter.

Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule said he was "thrilled" the DHB had admitted its mistake.

"I give the DHB credit for doing this.

"It's a lesson which shows that these are elderly people, and any amount of support to them is gratefully received.

"Which means any changes which impact that support need to be carefully thought out and sympathetic to their needs."