Home and community support services are under threat because the current funding model for the sector is unsustainable.

That was the main conclusion of a review of the sector conducted by Deloitte, released today at the Home and Community Health Association’s (HCHA) conference in Auckland.

HCHA chief executive Julie Haggie says the lack of a consistent national approach to planning and funding is placing home and community support services under threat as providers struggle to stay afloat. She says that although DHBs have agreed a national funding model based on client need, until this is implemented, the situation will only get worse.

However, the main problem is that current funding levels fall short of what is required for providers to adequately support a rapidly ageing population.

“Home and community support providers are funded almost entirely by DHBs, the Ministry of Health and ACC. That funding just isn’t enough and with no other sources of funding, providers are being forced to cut costs year after year,” says Haggie.

Haggie says the issue has compounded over time with DHB contracts not keeping pace with the minimum wage increases and inflation.

The Deloitte report shows that many providers have responded to insufficient funding by increasing employees’ workloads yet not their pay, leading to high turnover rates.

“Providers would like to pay more so they can attract and keep skilled people, but current contracts don’t generally allow for more than the minimum wage. The Deloitte report shows that all employers are struggling with some now operating in debt.”

The HCHA is heartened by the Government’s recent injection of money to pay for support worker travel between jobs. However, Haggie says that while it has addressed a legal threat faced by employers, it does nothing to weaken the threat of going out of business.

The Deloitte report was commissioned by the HCHA and is expected to be used to support the Association’s discussions with Government.

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