This week’s newsletter focuses on issues around health, justice and social services. All of us are affected by these issues so I know you will be interested to hear about the progress and changes the Government is making in these areas.
On Friday 24 June, my colleague Melissa Lee (List MP from Auckland) joined me to visit three South Canterbury social service providers. They were Anglican Care, Timaru Salvation Army and Family Works. All three have seen an upswing in demand for their services as a result of the recession and more latterly the Canterbury earthquakes. We were interested to hear that all of the services are working with those who are requiring food parcels to provide budgeting advice and to ensure that assistance available to them is identified.
New guidelines for medicines management in aged care
I was pleased to recently launch, on behalf of the Minister of Health, a new set of guidelines to help residential aged care providers manage medicines as safely as possible.
The guidelines will provide a valuable and timely tool for residential care providers.
The guides have been developed after several audits and a wide-ranging review revealed that a significant number of providers were not meeting the standard for safe medication management.
Work on the Guides was led by Dr Michal Boyd, a Gerontology Nurse Practitioner and senior lecturer with the Freemasons’ Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Auckland.
The Medicines Care Guides are designed to be used by managers, nurses, health care assistants, and other health professionals who work in residential aged care facilities.
As well as detailing procedures for managing and storing medicines, keeping records and dealing with adverse reactions, the guides provide a quick clinical reference for common conditions and topics encountered in the care of older people.
The guides are designed to support best practice in residential aged care environments and do not replace sound clinical judgement, facility-specific policies and procedures, or current legislation.
Increased focus on restorative justice
I am delighted the Government is increasing funding for adult restorative justice by $2 million. There are restorative justice projects in the Rangitata electorate in both Timaru and Ashburton.
The Ministry of Justice funds restorative justice services prior to sentencing – cases both before a judge and those that have been referred through the Police Adult Diversion Scheme. Judges can refer any case for restorative justice, from lower level offending to very serious charges, where the offender pleads guilty.
The extra funding was further evidence of the National government’s support of Restorative Justice.
Having previously been a community panellist for Project Turnaround in Timaru, I am well aware of the value of restorative justice and have seen for myself that it can both address the drivers of crime and reduce re-offending, whilst meeting the needs of the victims of the crime.
I believe Restorative Justice is a powerful tool in the fight against crime and I am very pleased to be part of a government that is backing it.
Restorative justice helps address the harm done to victims, holds offenders to account for their crimes, and reduces re-offending.
Restorative justice currently receives about $2 million a year to fund about 1500 restorative justice conferences through 24 community providers at 31 District Courts, as well as supporting a national facilitator training programme, national conferences, and the national provider body – Restorative Justice Aotearoa.
Only about 5 per cent of eligible cases – where the offender pleads guilty and there is an identifiable victim – are referred to restorative justice.
The reprioritisation of funding means that in 2011/12 and 2012/13 restorative justice will receive an extra $500,000, while in 2013/14 and out-years it will receive an extra $1 million.
Foster parents get support and training
A new agreement between Fostering Kids and Child, Youth and Family has been signed.
The New Zealand Family and Fostercare Federation has been rebranded as Fostering Kids and will work alongside Child Youth & Family (CYF).
The backing of a government department and the Minister of Social Development will help strengthen and support the good work Fostering Kids do.
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding marks the beginning of a relationship which will see training for foster carers which aligns with national qualifications.
The agreement will also see 11 new workshops for foster carers; covering topics such as building attachment and managing behaviour.
More than 4,000 caregivers provide vital care to children who’ve often had a rough start to life and we must support those caregivers as much as possible.
Fostering Kids provide support to around 1,000 foster parents caring for children through CYF and Non-Government Organisations such as Barnardos and the Open Home Foundation.
Govt responds to immunisation report
The Government wants to ensure every New Zealand child has the chance to be protected against preventable diseases.
Immunisation is one of the Government’s six Health Targets. Currently an all-time record 90 per cent of New Zealand two-year-olds have had all the recommended immunisations. The Health Target is 95 per cent by July 2012.
The Government has released its response to the Health Select Committee’s recommendations for increasing New Zealand’s immunisation rates to levels that stop outbreaks of infectious diseases like measles.
The vast majority of parents, about 90 per cent, support immunisation. About 5 per cent make a deliberate choice not to immunise. That leaves a group who haven’t made a decision, haven’t got around to it, or more worryingly, haven’t seen a doctor. These are the parents we need to reach.
This is not about making immunisation compulsory. This is about making sure every New Zealand child has the opportunity to be immunised and parents making an informed choice.
Some of the select committee’s recommendations endorse work which is already underway to build parents’ trust in immunisation and make it easier for parents to get their child immunised on time.
Other proposals, such as looking at incentives for parents and health professionals and providing more information, particularly about reactions and adverse events following vaccination, will be investigated by the Ministry of Health.
If you would like to keep up with policy updates from the National Party, these can be found at http://www.national.org.nz/policy.aspx
July 1 Opening of Base Youth Café (new premises) in Ashburton
July 4 Trustpower Timaru Community Awards
July 4 Ashburton Christian School integration celebrations
July 7 Rugby World Cup Roadshow in Timaru
July 8 Rugby World Cup Roadshow in Ashburton