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Newsletter - June 2017

Editorial

Seniors Minister Maggie Barry

Hello,

In this edition we look at what Budget 2017 has delivered for Seniors.

As your Minister for Seniors my top priority is to raise awareness and responsiveness to the problem of elder abuse. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is on June 15th. Find out how you can join the conversation about the need to stop elder abuse in this newsletter.

From July 1st we are changing the way the Government provides services for Elder Abuse. We are setting up a new 0800 helpline to assist anyone who needs information or support on elder abuse or neglect 24/7.

There's a table outlining the recent increase in pay rates for care workers in a $2 billion package agreed by the Government.

This wage boost will help recruit and retain people employed in aged care and result in better continuity of care for seniors.

We have an article on the Retirement Village Association one-page checklist which makes comparisons between retirement villages quick and easy.

We've recruited a new range of businesses offering discounts including vets, as we know pets are great company but can sometimes go through an expensive phase for their owners.

And I'm pleased to welcome readers who are subscribers to the Braille Foundation Library. I was delighted that the Foundation has made the decision to provide audio transcripts of the Newsletter. Hope you enjoy reading this winter edition of the SuperSeniors newsletter.

Warm regards,

Minister Maggie Barry Signature

Honourable Maggie Barry ONZM
Minister for Seniors

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Budget 2017

Budget 2017

The Family Incomes Package announced in the budget will change the after tax income for around 750 thousand New Zealand Superannuitants.

From 1 April 2018:

  • The personal income tax thresholds will increase from $14,000 to $22,000. This will increase the after tax rates of New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran's Pension, for people where this is their main source of income.
  • Superannuitants receiving income from other sources, such as work, may also benefit from the income tax threshold increasing from $48,000 to $52,000.
  • Accommodation Supplement maximum amounts will increase and accommodation areas will be reallocated to better reflect increased housing costs for the first time since 2005. Around 15,000 superannuitants will benefit by an average of $29 a week.

As a result of the package, the weekly rates of New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran's Pension (for those on tax code "M") are estimated to increase from 1 April 2018 by:

  • $6.60 a week for each member of a married/civil union couple
  • $7.87 a week for a single person sharing accommodation
  • $8.52 a week for a single person living alone.

These increases are in addition to the usual increase as part of the annual adjustment to rates of New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran's Pension on 1 April 2018.

Between 1 April 2008 and 1 April 2017, the after tax weekly rate of NZ Super paid to a couple (who both qualify) increased by $160.50 or 36.49%. Over the period December 2007 to December 2016 the Consumer Price Index (all groups) increased by 17.07%.

For more information go to the SuperSeniors website.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15th

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15th

Across the globe, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is marked on 15 June every year. In New Zealand, it signals the beginning of Elder Abuse Awareness Week.

The Awareness Week offers the chance to send a clear and strong message to New Zealanders about the need to respect older people, and to make it clear that elder abuse should never be a part of our society.

Around New Zealand, organisations, schools and businesses wear purple badges or clothing, organise events and have a conversation about elder abuse. You can find resources to help you take a stand on the SuperSeniors website.

Minister for Seniors Maggie Barry's key priority is to address elder abuse and neglect and ensure our most vulnerable are supported and lead happy and healthy lives.

This year our campaign has the weight of SuperSeniors champions behind it. Dame Malvina Major, Dame Kate Harcourt, Peter Chin, Lance Girling-Butcher, Hon Dr Pita Sharples, Sir Jon Trimmer, Precious McKenzie, Donald and Jennie Sew Hoy, Seung-jae Yu, Peter Hayden and Hon Margaret Austin will lend their voices to this important conversation. These outstanding advocates for positive ageing feel very strongly that it's time to bring this issue out into the open.

Family Violence Summit

The recent Family Violence Summit held in Wellington was an opportunity for people across the sector to come together and build on the conversations to date about breaking the patterns of family violence.

One of the summit workshops was on how best to support seniors, people with disabilities and migrant communities to access family violence services available. This workshop explored how entry to those services can be better designed.

Summit findings are published online on the Ministry of Justice website.

New Elder Abuse Response Services from 1 July

Minister for Seniors Maggie Barry has refocused elder abuse services almost doubling the pool of money available for prevention services.

In April, the Ministry of Social Development ran a tender to strengthen services to address elder abuse and neglect. Our objectives were to encourage innovation among providers, to offer stronger support throughout the country, and to ensure services meet people's cultural needs. There will be a social investment requirement with the emphasis on positive, measurable outcomes for victims.

These new services will launch from 1 July. A free phone will be active from then and available 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.

New Elder Abuse Response Services from 1 July

The free 0800 helpline will be available to anyone who needs information or support on elder abuse or neglect – whether they experience it themselves or see it happening to others. Calls to this number will be "triaged," directing callers to local specialist providers.

Elder abuse can take many forms. It can be physical, financial or psychological. The problem is largely hidden from sight with many cases going unreported.

One of the main reasons elder abuse is under-reported is many people do not understand or accept that they're being abused. Part of this may be because three quarters of abusers are often family members or people they should be able to trust. These relationships also create a reluctance to come forward or speak out and many are ashamed to admit that this is happening to them.

Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be adding resources to the SuperSeniors website to help people understand elder abuse and how to address it. We'll also be publishing information on how you can protect yourself and how to have conversation with others if you have concerns.

The new services will be focused on providing practical help and strategies to victims of elder abuse.

Pay increase for care workers

About 55,000 staff in government-funded sectors involving aged care, home support and disability services are to share in a $2 billion pay equity settlement which was approved by the Government in April.

The higher wage rates will help recruit and retain the workers who care for the elderly - which means better continuity of care for rest home residents and people still living in their own homes. That's particularly important given our ageing population will likely result in a greater demand for care and support workers.

A care and support worker on the minimum wage with three years' experience and no qualifications will receive a 27 per cent increase in their hourly wage rate moving from $15.75 to $20 per hour from 1 July 2017. That rate would progressively increase to $23 per hour by July 2021 and would rise further if they attain a higher qualification.

Pay increase for care workers

The settlement will take place over five years and will be funded through an increase of $1.856 billion to Health and $192 million to ACC. ACC levies are set for the coming years, but may possibly increase over the next decade to support this.

There may also be an increase in costs for people in aged residential care facilities, whose residential care assets keep them above the subsidy threshold.

Any increase will be determined through the Aged Residential Care national contract negotiations that take place annually between the District Health Boards and residential care facilities.

As the settlement also links pay rates to qualifications, this will encourage care and support workers to increase their qualifications, meaning that over time, workers are likely to be more highly trained and skilled.

Pay increase for care workers

Changes to Residential Care Subsidy rates

On 1 July this year, the new Residential Care Subsidy rates come into effect. If you need long-term residential care in a rest home or hospital, you may now qualify for a subsidy.

The new combined asset thresholds have increased to:

  • $224,654 for people who don't have a partner or have a partner who is also in long-term residential care
  • $224,654 for people who have a partner who is also in long-term residential care including the value of their house and car
  • $123,025 for people with a partner who is not in care, not including the combined value of their house and car. (The house is only exempt when it's the main place where your partner who is not in care or a dependent child lives).

The new income-from-assets exemptions have increased to:

  • $982 a year for single people
  • $1,964 a year for a couple when both are assessed as needing care
  • $2,946 a year for a couple where one partner has been assessed as needing care.

Your assets and income will be assessed by Work and Income. All other eligibility is assessed by the Ministry of Health.

For more information go to the Ministry of Health website or call the Health Seniorline on 0800 725 463 or visit www.seniors.msd.govt.nz

Retirement village checklist

Each week around 50 seniors decide to make a retirement village their new home. There are now over 37,000 New Zealanders living in retirement villages.

Under the law, operators of retirement villages are required to provide a full disclosure statement to anyone considering moving in. This produces an overload of paperwork which can make finding key information a time consuming and difficult process.

To solve this problem, the Retirement Village Association has put together a one-page checklist so comparisons between retirement villages can be made quickly and easily.

Executive Director of the Association, John Collyns says "the process of deciding on what retirement village to move into is a lot more complicated than buying your own home. It's important to understand the financial terms involved and have them at your fingertips.

"The retirement village regime works in a transparent way and operators will be able to fill out the checklist template for anyone making enquiries. Our one-page checklist has key questions we know residents want answered."

John says "it's important for seniors to talk to their family so they understand the reasons why you're considering retirement village living and the financial implications involved. But remember, ultimately it's your money and it's your decision."

Retirement village checklist

When making significant financial decisions, such as moving into a retirement village, it's important to get independent legal advice.

Checklist questions to ask for:

  • Fees charged
  • The property's capital gains or losses
  • What happens when you leave the unit
  • Transferring within the village
  • Care options available

To download a copy of the checklist go to the SuperSeniors website.

The power of dance

The power of dance

On Friday mornings in Porirua, near Wellington a group of seniors with a range of physical disabilities engage with one another and have fun taking part in DaNZability dance classes.

Neuroscientists from Toronto's York University tracking the brainwaves of people with Parkinsons have found a one hour dance class results in a boost in alpha brain waves.

The one hour DaNZability sessions are choreographed and run by physiotherapist and dance instructor Rachel Horwell.

"Dance is magic for the brain. It's cognitive – you have to use the front part of your brain and think it through. Music lights up different areas of the brain. It sparks activity like rhythm, drive, emotions, and memories. There's also the cardiovascular aspect of dance. Moving pumps more blood to the brain.

"When I structure a dance I acknowledge the limitations people have and think about what they need in terms of balance, flexibility and exercise. I set movement activities to lengthen and strengthen so that their joints are not so stiff and weary. This helps relieve pain.

Rachel says "When you have a disability you start to become socially isolated. Being in a dance group gives you a purpose. You know it's good for you and going to challenge you but you feel confident that it's safe to try in an environment with people with similar difficulties.

"The lovely thing that's happened aside from the dance, is the community that has grown from it. The more abled help the less able. This group care for one another."

Check out similar activities in your area through Citizens Advice Bureaux, local councils and sporting organisations.

Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Facebook

Learn something new, and enjoy getting involved in a discussion on the Office for Seniors' Facebook page.

With over 8,500 followers the page hosts an online community for seniors who join in conversations on a range of issues from the serious – elder abuse, neglect and social isolation – to less serious but still interesting topics for seniors.

If you follow the page you'll receive regular news links and information relating to older people and ageing. There are also trips down memory lane to share.

It's an excellent way to keep up with others as well as family and friends. If you're already on Facebook you can follow us on www.facebook.com/officeforseniors

To create a Facebook account:

  1. Go to www.facebook.com/r.php
  2. Enter your name, email or mobile phone number, password, date of birth and gender.
  3. Click Sign Up.
  4. To finish creating your account, you'll need to confirm your email or mobile phone number.

Some top tips from Facebook include:

  • Only 'Friend' people you know
  • Create a strong password and use it only for Facebook, don't share it with anyone and change it regularly
  • Check your Facebook privacy settings regularly to make sure you know what you are sharing with whom
  • Log out of Facebook after using someone else's computer
  • Beware of 'goofy' posts from anyone – even Friends. If it looks like something your friend wouldn't post, don't click on it
  • Beware of enticing links coming from your Friends

SuperGold Card special offers

Check out the latest special offers for our super seniors through the SuperSeniors website.

SuperGold New Zealand Government Office for Seniors