25 Jun 2018

Families 'devastated' after cuts to IDEA services

1:50 pm on 25 June 2018

Some people with disabilities and their families are still suffering after cuts to support services which were only supposed to have a minor impact.

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Photo: 123RF

IDEA Services, which offers everything from respite care for parents to assisted living and vocational support for the disabled, had its services cut by 5 percent by its owner IHC, a year ago.

Families were promised support and a transition to new services, however, many have been left reeling from the cuts.

Otago parent Kate Hall took her son Lucas to respite every second weekend.

Kate Hall

Kate Hall Photo: Supplied

When IDEA Services parent company IHC closed its only respite home in Dunedin last March, her family was devastated.

Respite and home support services were among several cut by IHC in a move that affected 1200 clients across the country.

"Since the time of the cuts, we've had no respite for our son," Mrs Hall said.

Lucas, who is 27, also used IHC home support services.

Mrs Hall planned for Lucas to be able to move into supported living after adjusting to time away through respite.

But the lack of support has halted her plan.

"He's just slipped backwards," Mrs Hall said.

The Ministry of Health promised assistance, but no one has come back to them, she said.

Instead her family had been left on its own with no support, she said.

Dunedin mother Sandra Paterson had just started taking her son Sam to respite when the cuts were announced.

For her, respite care was an opportunity to introduce Sam, 30, to life outside the family home with new friends, and give Mrs Paterson and her husband a chance for a break.

They had built up trust with the IHC respite carers and Sam felt comfortable to stay with them, Mrs Paterson said.

"Losing that was quite hard really."

While she has been able to access other respite services, Mrs Paterson said other families in the region haven't been so lucky.

When RNZ approached the Ministry of Health for an interview, it emailed a statement, saying all services have been picked up by new providers with some families choosing to look at different support options.

IHC also responded with an emailed statement, saying people it supported transitioned to other service providers and staff chose whether to work for a new provider to move to another role.

E Tū Otago organiser Ann Galloway confirmed it had been a relatively smooth transition for staff in her region.

While it had been difficult to transition "into the unknown", all staff had been moved into their new roles, Ms Galloway said.

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