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Family stress

Open Home

Provides temporary or respite care to about 49 families in crisis in the Tauranga area, where no alternative can be found though a robust assessment process; also provides 4,650 bed-nights for children referred through Child, Youth and Family on a range of different schemes

Ngati Ranginui Iwi Society

Provides a range of care for children; in contact with Child, Youth and Family

Ngaiterangi Iwi Inc Society

Provides temporary and permanent care for children referred through Child, Youth and Family

Homes of Hope

Families need a referral through Child, Youth and Family

Older people

Rest homes/Private hospitals

Most rest homes can provide out-of-home respite for older people

Service provision issues

There are inequities in the funding of respite care, but there are also problems in getting the respite care that has been funded. There is merit in trying to develop an approach which looks at all the resources available for providing families with respite care to see how they can be delivered in a more equitable manner.

Respite care for families covers a range of different services. It can include care within an institution, care in the home of another family, and in-home care when someone comes to the family home to give the caregiver a break. Respite care can last for several weeks or several hours.

One of the key difficulties is that, even when there is a clearly established entitlement, it is difficult to find appropriately-trained people to provide this sort of care. These difficulties are compounded by the fact families themselves often have to take responsibility to find someone to provide respite care. As one provider noted, “expecting a carer to find their own care-givers is like asking a drowning man to build his own boat”.

The families whose children have challenging behaviour are particularly compromised. The DHB’s needs assessment agency, Support Net, which holds the funding for respite care, has about 40 children with challenging behaviours who have funding available. These children have been diagnosed with conditions such as autism and ADHD. The agency says the key difficulty is finding suitable carer support for these children who, especially as they get older, require skilled management. A provider of family-based respite care for families under stress says she is frequently asked to provide care for children in this group. But families are reluctant to take children with challenging behaviour unless they have the appropriate training and support; and this is currently not available.

The problems are similar for children with intellectual and physical disabilities. Even though the management of their care may not be as complex, and there are some providers offering full-time residential care, families still face real difficulties finding respite care. There is accommodation in Hamilton intended to meet the needs of Bay of Plenty/Lakes area families, but many families find getting access to that facility a problem.

There is no funding stream at all to provide respite for families caring for children who are medically fragile (those with health conditions such as severe heart, breathing or digestive problems that require ongoing medical intervention). On rare occasions, such children have been admitted to the paediatric ward to give their families a break, but this is actively discouraged. Until recently, there was also no respite care available for families of children with mental health conditions. However, a new service provided by the Youth Horizons Trust started in mid-2006.

Respite care in times of family crisis (the death or illness of another family member, or the breakdown of the family unit) is generally only available through direct contract with Child, Youth and Family. Open Home has a small generic contract from Child, Youth and Family to provide respite for some self-referred families in crisis.

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