A Fairer Go for Carers- but not Fair Enough

The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) is pleased that the government has corrected aspects of the Funded Family Care policy, but calls for more courageous action.

The changes provide parents and partners of those who need a high level of care with income for their mahi; raise the rates received by family carers and enhance the rights of carers generally.

These improvements, while long overdue, are appreciated by the Association.

Yet many carers, as things stand, will continue to be let down by some of the existing gaps in, or unchanged parts of, the policy.

“While we wholeheartedly welcome these changes, the government mustn’t stop here” Lucy Sandford-Reed, Chief Executive of ANZASW said.

The Association is disappointed that the funding assessment process, which decides how many hours a caregiver is paid, was not altered to allow for carers to be paid fully for their mahi.

“The current rules mean that a carer who provides near-constant support will be paid for no more than 40 hours of work, often with assessments allocating considerably fewer hours than this, even if they work around the clock,” Sandford-Reed observed.

ANZASW also regrets that the policy update did not address the fact that adults who act as caregivers for their parents do not have the same level of access to funding.

“We must not forget that there remain so many more people who provide dedicated and essential care to their parents for free, while struggling to make ends meet,” she observed.

“This has to change if we really want to, as a society, treat caregivers fairly,” she said.

“Having said that, we reiterate our support for the changes announced in recent days,” Sandford-Reed continued.

ANZASW member Christine Simpson, a Clinical and Youth Services Manager at PACT, said she thought the move was “absolutely necessary” as the extra income would help those being cared for, as well as the family / whānau around them.

“It’s also about recognising the work [carers] do, it’s a very demanding role,” she added