COVID-19 AND HOMECARE SERVICES
Terry Hemmingsen PRESIDENT
Many of our older seniors continue to reside in their own homes and are supported by workers who provide personal care, health care and even home care, so that they can remain in their homes and be less of a burden on the overall hospital and aged care facilities. We at Horowhenua Grey Power applaud those people and hope that with help they can continue to stay at home rather than being institutionalised. The support that is provided to these elderly citizens by a number of agencies contracted to the District Health Board, is for the most part, a great service and is welcomed by those who receive it. But of course, we now have COVID-19 with its range of variants. The most recent being the Delta Variant, most recently noted in Melbourne. The concern of Horowhenua Grey Power is that the personal care, health care and home care workers are not required to have had the COVID-19 vaccination. The people that these workers visit and work with are frequently in the older age demographic, often frail and many have underlying health conditions. They are the “most at risk” members of our community. Why then, are the people that go into their homes not required to have had a COVID-19 jab? Here in the Horowhenua we have been very lucky with COVID-19 contacts. But if the current Melbourne situation has taught us anything: it is that COVID-19 can come back with a vengeance and strike anywhere and anyone. The suggestion that we will now have “green flights” returning from Melbourne without the need to quarantine on arrival in NZ leaves us wondering if the Delta Variant becomes more of a risk. Horowhenua Grey Power is calling on the Government, the Ministry of Health and the various care agencies to up their game and to make having the COVID-19 jab a condition of employment for the home care workers. No more of “we are supporting and encouraging all of our workers to have the vaccination”. Due to the negative publicity created by misinformation and the anti-vaccers, many of the home care workers are fumbling to get to the real truth about the vaccinations. Some are frightened by the stories that they are getting from some fairly random sources and many are therefore opting not to be vaccinated. In order to keep our ‘oldies’ safe, these front-line workers need to now be told to: have the vaccination, keep yourself and your clients safe or find another job. It should no longer be about personal choice. The clients don’t get a choice about who visits them (although they could probably ask) and neither should the workers. Let us all work together for a safer, COVID-free community. Make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for the home care industry.