Grace MacCormick reports hospices are facing big financial challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She quotes Hospice NZ chief executive Mary Shumacher, who says:
“When we moved into Level 4, all of our hospice shops were closed down immediately and many fundraising events were cancelled.
“These activities contributed more than 50% of our costs of delivering care.”
Hospices may kose $19 million
And Ms Shumacher estimates that hospices may lose $19 million over three months.
She says the wage subsidy was helpful but she hopes to work with the government to get the finance the hospices need.
Ms Shumacher was one of the speakers when the Epidemic Response Committee met via Zoom to see how Covid 19 has hit people who are dying or suffering from serious medical conditions.
She represents the 34 hospices around the country that provide palliative care.
20,000 people rely on hospices
In New Zealand, around 20,000 people and their families rely on the hospice services each year. One in three people who die in New Zealand are provided care by hospices.
Ms Shumacher spoke having to adapt during the Level 4 lockdown.
“Like many providers, we have adapted the way that we deliver care, meaning more phone contacts, more virtual consults and check-ins with carers and people within the patient’s bubble. But where needed staff have visited people at home” she said.
Supporting patients at home
“Our focus has been to try and support people at home where possible and in our in-patient units where required.”
Ms Shumacher said moving from level 4 eased the pressures hospice staff and patients face with less restrictions around family visitation.
However, she said that hospices are not yet back to operating normally.
The Parliamentry Committee also heard from members of the Cancer Society, the Funeral Directors Association and representatives of the palliative care sector.