Home and Community Support (Payment for Travel Between Clients) Settlement Bill - First reading

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It is a pleasure to speak on this Home and Community Support (Payment for Travel Between Clients) Settlement Bill.

I want to bring a personal aspect to this in a minute or two but I think it is quite important that the purpose of this bill is actually as a result of an agreement between the parties, being the district health boards, the home support and community-based care services and their community-based employees.

There are some 24,000, as we have heard before, which is a significant number of people who are involved in this very necessary area.

My wife’s grandmother, our children’s great-grandmother was in care in her own home. It was very important to her to remain in her home as long as possible. And I really did not have much understanding of what was involved in home care at all until I witnessed that.

It was actually during the election campaign last year, and when I was door knocking in Blenheim I went to Julie’s grandmother every day for lunch. This lady grew up in a household with a photo of Michael Joseph Savage on the wall, so you can imagine it was quite a leap for her to have a National candidate having lunch with her every day—it was phenomenal.

To come back to the bill, though, to witness on a daily basis the home carers coming in and how they bring great pleasure to those people remaining in their home and giving them the necessary care that they need—what really struck me about the whole thing was not just the skills involved in what they did, but the enjoyment they got out of providing that care to those people. I think that is something that I certainly had not really appreciated until I witnessed it, as I said, on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, she is no longer with us but those people are out there doing this on a daily basis for other people. We have an ageing population, we are going to have more people who will require these kinds of services, and it is incumbent upon us to actually have a workforce that can keep people in their homes should they desire to stay there, for as long as possible.

We need to provide a career pathway, and that means remunerating those people to the level they deserve for the services they are providing, and this bill goes a long way towards that. 

There is a transitional phase, then it moves into an ongoing and permanent phase and I think that is really to be lauded. It is with great pleasure that I commend this bill to the House. Thank you.