Health of Older People Consultation: Why didn't more carers participate?

Carers NZ was interested recently to hear from many carers who were asked to attend Health of Older People Strategy consultation meetings around the country, so they could have a voice in this important new piece of government work.

The Ministry of Health coordinated the meetings and sent senior staff to listen, but many of the events were poorly attended. As with so many consultations these days, the option of online input was more appealing to some carers, who work and can't easily attend meetings.

There would appear to be more afoot than simply being busy, however.

Carers are giving some key reasons why they are experiencing 'feedback fatigue' and are not bothering to give input.

  • They work and they can't get time off to attend meetings (or if they could get time off, they wouldn't use it to attend a meeting);
  • "I've done these things before and nothing changes for me as a carer so I can't be bothered";
  • Difficulties organising transport and alternative care for their older friend or family member;
  • Not feeling government consultation and any resulting work has any meaning for their everyday lives.

Over the years Carers NZ has been part of many government policy consultations for carers. Most recently we helped to gather feedback from carers about outcomes for the latest Carers' Strategy Action Plan (2014-2018); that one was done online and received more than 500 responses, a pretty good number.

We do hope some of you made it to the Health of Older People consultation meetings, because this is an area that affects so many New Zealand carers: mainly women of workforce age, often in their middle years, often working and deciding whether they can keep up the juggle of caring and paid work ... and also older women providing support whilst also managing their own health and disability support needs.

We'll keep you posted about progress with the HOP Strategy. Even if you couldn't attend a consultation meeting, what comes of this Strategy will likely ripple into your life as a carer, so staying abreast of next steps is important.

Meanwhile Carers NZ is working with Alzheimers NZ, the Stroke Foundation, and others to jointly call for a better, fairer respite system for older people and their family carers.

A leader in the community sector believes only a fraction of those who are allocated Carer Support Subsidy use it, due to a range of barriers: top-up fees, paperwork, time limits on submitting claims, and so on.

This is one area that needs scrutiny and a better approach ... because having regular breaks is important for every carer.

Thanks to those who had a say in the health of older people consultation by attending a meeting or completing the online form. And thanks to the Ministry for organising so many consultation meetings and ensuring that carers had an opportunity to have input into the new Strategy.

Let's see what transpires!