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Updated: 16/06/2015


THE CODE OF HEALTH AND DISABLITY SERVICES CONSUMER’S RIGHTS

  1. Respect
  2. Fair Treatment
  3. Dignity and Independence
  4. Proper Standards
  5. Communication
  6. Information
  7. It is your decision
  8. Support
  9. Teaching and Research
  10. Complaints

You should always be treated with respect. This includes respect for your culture, values and beliefs, as well as your personal privacy.

No one should discriminate against you, pressure you into something you do not want or take advantage of you in any way.

Services should support you to live a dignified independent life.

You have the right to be treated with care and skill, and to receive services that reflect your needs. All those involved in your care should work together for you.

You have the right to be listened to and understood, and receive information in whatever way that you need. When it is necessary and practicable, an interpreter should be available.

You have the right to have your condition explained and be told what your choices are. This includes how long you may have to wait, an estimate of any costs, who will be involved and likely benefits and side effects. You can ask questions to help you be fully informed.

It is up to you to decide. You can say no or change your mind at any time.

You have the right to have someone with you to give you support in most circumstances.

All these rights also apply when you are taking part in teaching and research.

It is OK to complain – your complaints help improve service. It must be easy for you to make a complaint, and should not have any effect on the way you are treated.

The above is an outline of the rights guaranteed by the law known as the ‘Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Code of Rights.’ They apply to all health and disability services, whether you pay for them or not.

Local independent advocacy services are available and the Health and Disability Commissioner can be reached toll free on 0800 112233. 

 

Updated: 23/06/2015

In the health setting an assessment usually means a clinical needs assessment. An assessment is not a test; it's about making sure that anything that could improve your health and make life better for you is understood and where possible put in place.

During this process your physical, mental, social and spiritual needs are assessed. A full assessment is thorough, takes several hours and a lot of questions are asked. These include questions about your physical and mental health and well-being, your spiritual needs, whether you require of any assistance with your everyday tasks etc. With your permission family members are also involved and your GP may be contacted if further information is required. If necessary a referral may be made to a specialist health professional and treatment offered.

At the end of the assessment a recommendation will be made e.g.:

  • referral back to your GP and possible community support
  • you have specific care/support needs;
  • your carer requires support;
  • a high level of care is needed;
  • etc.

A service or care coordinator will assist in arranging services you require and are eligible for.

An assessment is undertaken by a trained health professional who uses a computer programme called interRAI to make sure that all relevant questions are asked, important issues that need follow up or investigation are actioned and an accurate record kept. You will be given a copy of the assessment.

If you don't agree with the outcome of the assessment you can ask for it to be reviewed.

How to get an assessment
You can contact your local service yourself, or you can ask your doctor to refer you. Your initial contact is considered, prioritised and then passed on to the relevant part of the service. You should be told if you are placed on a waiting list.

Needs assessment and service or care coordination (NASC) services are free to eligible, permanent New Zealand residents and citizens. You may be eligible for a needs assessment if you have a disability that is likely to last for at least six months and for which you require on-going support.

Update: 23/06/2015

 

After you have had an assessment you may be referred to someone known as a service or care coordinator. They will discuss the recommendations with you and help organise any services that have been recommended following the assessment and that you agree to. Amongst other options this may involve arranging home support services, carer support for any carer, or talking through your options with you if residential care has been recommended. They will also give you the information you need and set up the process for entry to care if this is decided.

Some services may be subsidised for those who are eligible (financial eligibility may also apply). You may need to pay or part pay for other services.(See: Will I have to pay for my care?)

Updated: 16/06/2015

This information is located in the  Work and Income website

Reviewed 16-06-2015

Research has shown that by ‘having a successful, healthy and active life before and after reaching old age’ one can enhance the chances of retaining independence.

‘Financial resources, an active mind, good relationships with family and friends, fitness and health and good self-esteem are all associated with being able to stay living independently. Even when serious disability or illness occurs, these personal resources and social capital increase choices and enhance the likelihood that an individual can access services, be supported informally and stay living independently.’ (Ministry of Social Policy Factors Affecting the Ability of Older People to Live Independently – A Report for the International Year of Older Persons New Zealand 2000 pg 58). This Report clearly identified the importance of older people having control of their lives and affairs.

We have incorporated these thoughts and identified the following major factors that are important in maintaining independence:

  • Physical well being
  • Mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being
  • Staying safe
  • Having control of your finances/income
  • Housing
  • Access to services

(The following sections of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ address these in more detail.)

Much of government health policy is directed to helping people remain safely independent in their own homes for as long as possible so that the focus of any assistance you might receive is to help you retain, maximise or restore your skills and abilities. If, however, you are not able to do things for yourself, autonomy becomes an important consideration as do your rights to self-determination or self-governance.

NOTE: The values associated with ageing differ from culture to culture. While independence and autonomy are highly valued in western society, interconnectedness and giving and receiving help may be more important in others.

Updated 23/6/2015

Exercise needn’t be a burden. Many activities that you do each day as part of your routine may in fact be exercise. A good day in the garden will let anyone know that they have been exercising but even more gentle daily activities such as taking a brisk walk or playing with the grandchildren are sufficient to maintain a good state of fitness.

Many local authorities run exercise programmes for older people which include activities such as gym, exercise groups, swimming and pool jogging, yoga, bowls, walking groups, Tai Chi etc. The general rules are ‘Stay Active’ and ‘Use it or lose it’. Start exercising slowly and build up to a level you can sustain.

A regular exercise routine that totals 30 minutes per day brings real health benefits. The benefits of exercise include; improvement in mobility, improvement in mood, lowering of blood pressure, reducing risk factors associated with heart disease, maintenance of bone strength etc.

See your Doctor if you experience any unexplained pain or shortness of breath during activity or if you are unsure what amount of exercise you require.

Reviewed 16-06-2015

We would refer you to the following websites: 

Family doctor 

Health Improvement and Innovation Resource Centre 

Health Navigator 

Medsafe (information about medication and medical devices) 

Medline (please note this is a US website and treatment and recommendations may vary in New Zealand) 

The Ministry of Health 

 

Updated 25-06-15

Mental fitness

Remaining mentally fit is as important as physical fitness and often the two go hand in hand. Factors such as having regular physical exercise; staying well; seeing your doctor when you are unwell and having a good diet all contribute to good mental health.

We can also exercise our mental health. ‘Use it or lose it’ still applies. There are a number of ways that the mind can be exercised e.g.;

  • Keep up with events and news.
  • Stay connected with family and friends. Try to make new friends. Talk to someone you don’t know or perhaps someone much older or much younger than yourself.
  • Expose yourself to new things e.g. try a card game you have never tried before; go somewhere you haven’t been before; try different food etc.
  • Stretch your thinking by enrolling in continuing education classes or University of the 3rd Age.
  • Learn new skills – for example using a cell phone and texting.  This can be a great skill to have for peace of mind and security as it allows you to keep in contact with friends and family while out and about. It’s also a great way to keep in contact with the grandchildren.
  • Learn a language
  • Join up with SeniorNet (http://www.seniornet.co.nz). SeniorNet is a rapidly growing group where the focus is teaching and learning computer skills. This is done in a peer tutoring environment and means that you don’t have ‘some young thing’ whizzing you through a course that leaves you feeling breathless and discouraged. You will be with others who understand your trepidation. Many older people are finding computers liberating and empowering eg email helps you keep in touch with your family and friends. Remember, the people of your generation invented computers! If you feel confident with computers you might like to offer some of your expertise to SeniorNet.
  • Keep doing your crosswords and puzzles.
  • Look for new solutions to problems and avoid the old ones that don’t work anymore and just make you angry.
  • Become an advocate for positive changes eg join a lobby group such as Grey Power (http://www.greypower.co.nz). You may not make a difference on your own but join with others and much more can be achieved.
  • Maintain an open and enquiring mind.
  • Record your life history. It’s great for the memory as well as for the genealogists who follow behind you.

If you or someone close to you is experiencing memory loss talk to your doctor. Dementia is not the only cause of memory loss and some conditions are treatable. Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Society will also give you information and advice (http://www.alzheimers.co.nz).

Depression is an often-unrecognised condition of older people and is also often misunderstood by the older person experiencing it. Depression is not a normal part of ageing. While it can be a serious illness in most instances it can be successfully treated. The benefits of sorting it out early are worthwhile.  For further information refer to the question below: Feeling flat and depressed - Is it normal to feel this way at my age?

Updated 25-06-15

Feeling 'flat' or depressed most of the time is not a normal part of ageing and feeling this way is usually an indication that something else is going on.

Losses, ill health and major life changes can be hard to cope with at times.  While this is true for any age group as people age the effects of these life events can compound leaving them at risk of developing depression.  In many cases depression can be merely accepted by the older person as something they have to “cope with” – as they will have coped previously with many difficult situations throughout their lives.  This can result in depression going undiagnosed and untreated in older people. 

Symptoms of depression are different to normal reactions to life's problems; they don't go away and may include deep ongoing sadness, unexplained anger, unrelenting unexplained pain, continually feeling worn down or 'flat', loss of meaning, loss of interest in things, poor self-image, worrying thoughts including thoughts of suicide and an inability to control these thoughts, alcohol and drug misuse, weight loss, appetite changes, feeling unwell, neglecting oneself, withdrawing and/or feeling useless.  These feelings are not a normal part of the ageing process.

While it is best to get help early it is also important to know it is never too late to 'sort this out'. Get help from someone experienced in older people's issues e.g. your Doctor (particularly if s/he has experience in older people's issues) or your local older persons' service. Don't let feelings of fear, embarrassment, shame, etc. stop you from asking for assistance and when discussing these issues make sure that you don't downplay the symptoms.

While depression can be a serious illness, in most instances it can be successfully treated. Treatment may include counselling and sometimes medication may be prescribed. If the treatment you have been given isn’t working (e.g. some pills take a while to ‘work’) don’t be afraid to say so – just as you would if any other medication or treatment you had been given didn’t work.

Don’t be afraid to contact a counsellor if you need some support. Age ConcernCitizens Advice Bureau or your GP can direct you.  A range of therapies have been shown to be effective.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (which includes techniques such as capturing thoughts before they ‘run away’ and replacing them with more reasonable thoughts) helps you change any distressing thought patterns. Structured Problem Solving is also a helpful technique that can help you deal with any problems you have; showing you how to deal with one problem at a time. Interpersonal Therapy helps you deal with relationship problems.  Psychotherapy may be useful for some people. You can find out more about these at www.depression.org.nz  http://www.depression.org.nz/waythrough/talking+therapies/methods (link through to the actual page as it’s quite hard to find)

Tips staying emotionally well:

  • Stay in touch with people if possible.  
  • Try going out to new groups and community events; particularly where you can do something you have not done before. 
  • Retain all the skills you can for as long as you can and challenge yourself to learn and try new things (learning something new has been shown to improve mental health). 
  • Maintain your independence as much as possible especially in relation to your decision making as feeling in control of your own situation will contribute to feelings of wellbeing. 
  • Don’t forget that your physical health is also closely connected with your mental/emotional well-being so ensure that you get some physical exercise.
  • Eat well so you maintain good nutrition.
  • Set some realistic goals; achieving them is good for your confidence.  
  • See your doctor if you become unwell.
  • Take your pills and other medication as prescribed.
  • A good night’s sleep and avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs are also important.

If you feel that you, or someone you know, may be suffering from an undiagnosed depression ensure you take action as soon as possible as successful treatment can dramatically increase quality of life.

 

Updated 25-06-15

Social and emotional well being

Feeling lonely and/or not connected to other people (as distinct from living alone) can become problems, as we get older. This may be due to a number of factors e.g. loss of someone close, moving house, loss of mobility etc. You can have some control over some of your responses e.g. join clubs, maintain a wide circle of friends etc. Other factors however, are beyond your control and spill over into the areas of social policy, housing, transport and poverty. (We address some of these issues in other sections.)

Since childhood, western society (NB: other ethnic groups construct their societies differently and therefore face different issues) has instilled in us the value of independence. Whilst there is value in developing self-sufficiency there has perhaps been an over emphasis on independence at the expense of interdependence.

Interdependency stresses the value of relationships. Building relationships builds healthy communities. It is important that people feel that they can participate in their community. Having a sense of belonging and participation in the wider community is crucial for self-esteem and emotional well-being. There are a number of ways that older people can participate in society. Thoughts and suggestions include:

  • Talk with your neighbours. Take an interest in what is going on in the area. Join a neighbourhood group. It is sometimes difficult maintaining a balance between neighbourliness and the need for your own privacy. Set the boundaries early on.
  • Try volunteering. A good volunteer programme will give you training, ongoing support and value you as one of the team. Volunteering is hugely important in economic terms to the country, not to mention social terms. You will be doing the country a favour! Take care however that you don’t get overloaded. You can even volunteer from your own home. Programmes such as the St John Caring Caller allow you to be involved in the community from the comfort of your own home. For more information phone 0800 780 780. When you leave any volunteer position it is not your responsibility to find a replacement.
  • Try to maintain a flexible attitude. Research shows that this is an important quality in remaining independent and or having a sense of autonomy.
  • Explore ways of building bridges between yourself and the young. Young people have very different things to contend with than you did. Support the youth to find their own solutions to today’s problems.
  • Planning is important for a sense of achievement. It is easy to let routine slip by putting something off today that can be done tomorrow. If you put some routine back in your day you may feel more ‘in control’.
  • Break down the stereotypes. Sometimes the things we stop doing are because we think it doesn’t ‘fit’ our age group. Many older people are prepared to push the boundaries these days. Just look at the number of people who now go to the ‘gym’,  participate in the Masters Games, have become computer experts, or  taken up travel etc.
  • Some people are finding fulfilment in continuing in paid work. (This does not belie the fact that some also need to continue in paid work for economic reasons.) Employment rates for people aged 65 and over have risen from 49,932 in 2001 to 129,513in 2013 (Statistic New Zealand).   
  • Balance rest, leisure and activity. Take time to keep up with reading, going to movies with friends, attending clubs, going to concerts etc. If transport is a problem you may be able to link in with others by car pooling, sharing taxi/van costs, use a companion driving service, you may also be eligible for Total Mobility taxi vouchers etc. 
  • Contact your local rest home. Sometimes you can join in with their activities, outings and special events. Residents may also enjoy a visit; particularly those who have few.
  • You might like to consider getting a pet if you don’t have one. There has been considerable research into the link between loneliness and the keeping of a pet. It has been suggested that having a pet helps meet some psychological needs. ‘Walking the dog’ is often a great way to meet  new people.
  • Feeling supported is also an important aspect of emotional well-being. We often turn to our families in the first instance and when they don’t or can’t help and then we feel let down. There are a number of reasons why families don’t seem to be so supportive these days. Societal pressures on families, their geographical distance and the changing nature of what in fact constitutes a family are just some of the factors that combine to make it more difficult for families to support one another these days. Despite this, national figures show that a third of adult New Zealanders do provide support to older people. Other people such as those friends who give you confidence in you own ability, listen to your concerns and encourage you are important in helping you feel supported.
  • Not seeing family and friends as frequently as you would like can be disappointing. Try to make the contact you do have with them as positive as possible. People are more likely to repeat positive experiences.
  • Many older people are taking an active role in grand parenting. The changing nature of paid work does however impact on all family members. New patterns seem to be emerging that show that many grandparents are now looking after their grandchildren whilst the parents work. This doesn’t mean that grandparents are prepared to be ‘used’ whenever requested. Many older people want to, and need to, maintain a life of their own. Responsibilities and rights of older people can therefore become a bit of a ‘juggling act’.
  • Research has also shown that having a positive attitude increases your ability to remain independent. That is of course easier said than done. It is also a very complex issue as a number of factors impact on this e.g. your own personality, circumstances, societal perceptions etc. Certainly if you can foster as positive an attitude as possible, this will work in your favour.
  • If you are the sort of person who likes joining a group find out if there are any in your area that you could be interested in. Citizens Advice, some Age Concern offices and the Neighbourly website can tell you what’s happening in your area. Many seniors groups that represent older people are also working hard to ensure that images of older people are positive. The way others perceive older people impacts greatly on how older people feel about themselves. If you have the inclination, these groups would value your support.
  • Spiritually - Connectedness with a greater power is very important for many people. This may be in the form of a quiet, contemplative, self-expression, or more formalised such as belonging to a church group. Some studies suggest that there are stages of faith and that this is ever changing and growing. For some people the later years of life can be a time of questioning for others it may be experiencing a more encompassing view of faith. Whatever your experience is, it may be helpful to view this as part of the journey of life.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for support. In many areas the St John Caring Caller service (0800 780 780) can arrange for someone to ring you each day to have a chat and check that all is well. Services such as Citizens Advice Bureaux can direct you to other appropriate agencies and groups.


Updated 23 June 2015

 

Helpful and comprehensive information may be found on the Land Transport web site. To access the section for Seniors click HERE

Reviewed: 16-06-2015

If you have limited mobility, mobility scooters can be great to way to maintain your independence and lifestyle.  It is however necessary to have comparable skills and be just as safety conscious as you would in any other vehicle.

Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 Schedule 1Objective of rule states:

“A mobility device is a vehicle with a maximum power output not exceeding 1 500 W that is principally designed and constructed for use by persons who require mobility assistance due to a physical or neurological impairment. Mobility devices are restricted to the footpath, where this is practicable and where they must be operated in a careful and considerate manner.”

While they are becoming increasingly popular and can be easily purchased in most small towns and cities, it’s important that new users are given helpful information, tips and basic advice.

You can find some very useful information at the New Zealand Transport Agency website. For information especially about scooters see their page: “Keeping Mobile”.

Updated 2-06-15

Outside

  • Ensure that path surfaces and gradients are safe, clear and moss free.
  • Steps are easier to negotiate when walking than a ramp.
  • Indicate or mark changes in levels.
  • Is it easy to get the mail?
  • Keep bushes and branches trimmed back from pathways and doorways.
  • Use appropriate and assistive equipment (e.g. kneeling pads and stools, long reach prunners etc.) and protective clothing (long sleeved tops, trousers, protective hand and arm covers and hip protectors etc.) when gardening.
  • If you drive, keep the access to the garage clear so that you have as clear a view as possible.

Inside

  • Ensure that smoke detectors work. Check them bi-annually when ‘daylight saving’ begins and ends.
  • Store a ‘Life Tube’ in fridge. These store information about your health status and are easily found by paramedics if they are called. (Ask Age Concern about these).
  • Make sure that heaters are safely placed
  • Ensure that curtains and drapes are not near the stove, fire, heater, etc
  • Set the hot water cylinder so that the temperature at the tap is 50-55C.
  • Make sure that extension cords are safely run and that they are not warm to the touch
  • Keep the jug cord clear of the stove elements.
  • Take your electric blanket to an electrician each year to be checked.
  • Don’t overload power points
  • Get a fire extinguisher and know how to use it (ensure it is not too heavy for you to use).
  • Keep floor surface clear of mats, or put down the non-slip variety.
  • Make sure that there is easy access through doorways.
  • Plan escape routes from various points of the house.
  • Lighting should be bright.
  • Consider use of timers on lights and radio (also for safety and security reasons).
  • Keep a night-light or torch at the bedside.
  • Ensure that your medication is safely stored and in a form you can manage e.g. made up into daily /weekly pack (the chemist can arrange).
  • Plan for easy access to a phone/s you can comfortably use, e.g. with large numbers, a portable phone carried in a pouch or several phones strategically placed around the house.
  • You may want to think about getting a 'Medical Alarm'. There are various systems that are available. Check the set up costs, ongoing monitoring costs/plans. Those who are eligible may qualify for assistance with costs under the 'Disability Allowance'
  • Make sure that furniture, chairs and bed is easy to get in and out of.
  • Maintain appliances in good condition.
  • Shift items in the cupboard so that you can easily reach them
  • Get aids in bathroom eg toilet rails, non-slip mats, chairs, raised toilet seat etc if you need them. Contact the Assessment Service to see if you qualify for assistance and avail yourself of their expertise and recommendations as to what best suits your need.
  • Ensure that there is clear access to toilet, bath, shower etc.
  • Use a walking aid if recommended.
  • Have ‘clutter’ regularly removed from the house such as papers, boxes and items that are no longer required.  Such items can be fuel for a fire and giving or throwing them away will also help keep access ways and possible escape routes in emergencies clear.  (See our question below about de-cluttering and downsizing.)

If you purchase assistive equipment talk to your doctor or practice nurse first or get specialist advice such as from an appropriately qualified assessor, Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist to ensure that you get the right equipment for your needs. Not all equipment suits all people e.g. a walking frame can be suitable for one person (because of their condition/needs) but dangerous for another.

Falls Prevention

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation in people aged 65 years and over, so it makes sense to ensure your home is as risk free as possible.  The ACC website has some great information on falls prevention – and a booklet you can download.  They also have information on Modified Tai Chi programmes which can help you to improve and maintain balance, an essential aspect of falls prevention and Vitamin D supplements which may assist with maintaining muscle strength and bone density.

The ‘jury still seems to be out’ with regard to the value of wearing hip protectors (many of those involved in the research didn’t wear their hip protectors consistently).  “Whilst some evidence is inconclusive, the use of hip protectors is recommended as best practice.” (Hip protectors: are they beneficial in protecting older people from fall-related injuries? Combes MPrice K. Source: Southern Cross Care (Tas) Inc., Moonah, Hobart, Tas, Australia. Journal of Clinical Nursing  2013 Mar 29 )

Updated 2015-07-14

If you haven’t already made an emergency plan you need to do so now.  Think about who might be able to come to your assistance if you should need it and discuss this with family, friends and neighbours.  If you live in a retirement village you are considered to be living independently and responsible for yourself. (Ask the village operator what their emergency plan is and how you might be included in it.)

Prepare a survival kit.  In most instances you will be able to remain in your own home but you need to be prepared to look after yourself for at least three days or more.  This means having an adequate supply of food and water for this amount of time; also plan for a possible loss of electricity and sewerage.  As well as food and water items you should have in your survival kit a radio, batteries, torch, first aid kit, essential medicines, toiletries, large rubbish bags, face and dust masks as well as blankets and/or sleeping bags.

In case you do need to leave your home in a hurry it is important to have a “get away” kit packed and ready to go.  Include in this some warm, sensible clothing and footwear, radio, torch and basic toiletries. Make sure you have some cash on you (it can be hard to access money during an emergency).  A small amount of water and food is also a good idea. Fasten a note to the top to reminder yourself of last minute items such as glasses, medicines etc and keep all these items handy and in the same place if possible to ensure a quick get-away. 

An analogue phone (the old plug into the wall type) are often more reliable in an emergency than other types however cell phones are particularly helpful (recharging can be an issue however). If you can’t text consider learning how to do this. Texting conserves power on your cell phone and is more likely to ‘get through’ than a phone call in an emergency situation.

The Civil Defense has prepared a checklist which is useful to review when planning for emergencies.  This is also found in the back of most phone books.

Updated 16/06/2015

 

Despite the alarming stories we see in the news ‘home invasion’ is rare and older people are less likely than other age groups to be the victims of such offences. Never the less many older people still feel vulnerable especially if they live alone. Burglary however, is another issue. More commonly burglaries are opportunistic and occur through the day when people are at home, perhaps when out gardening. It therefore pays to be diligent with home security. The following are ideas for improving security:

  • Keep garden plantings low to ensure hiding places are minimised.
  • Plant prickly plants under windows e.g. roses
  • If drainpipes run close to windows grow a rose up those or wind with something prickly.
  • Install sensor lighting.
  • Consider installing a burglar alarm, some can be linked to fire alarms.
  • Check the internal access. Ensure these doors have strong locks.
  • If a door opens outwards ensure that it has been secured so that it can’t be lifted off the hinges.
  • Leave some inside lights on when you go out.
  • Make sure valuable items can’t be seen from outside
  • Close curtains at night
  • Put away outside equipment that burglars could use (such as ladders etc). ·
  • Don’t leave keys in hiding places. Every one knows about the key under the mat or pot plant.
  • Install screens on doors and windows.
  • Fit deadlocks (mortice type) to wooden doors
  • Get a locksmith to access the situation if you have aluminium doors (s/he should give free advice).
  • Fit locks to windows
  • Don’t open the door to strangers and don’t tell them you are alone. Ask them to come back when it is more convenient. ie maybe arrange to have someone else there.
  • If someone comes to your door, perhaps to provide a service or for some other reason ask to see some identification and only invite them in if this satisfies you. It’s ok to phone the service provider’s office to verify their identification before you let them in.
  • Be aware of unsolicitored approaches, visits or phone calls from strangers.  They may claim to be offering services, salespeople or collecting for charity but could in fact be fraudsters.  Check these people out with family, friends or Age Concern.
  • Never sign anything if you are feeling pressured.  Tell the person you will come back to it and seek advice.
  • Install a wide-angle door viewer. You will then know if it’s a stranger or not. If the caller wants help, offer to phone for assistance or direct them elsewhere. Do not open the door whilst you phone.
  • Put men’s boots by the door. (Dust them occasionally)
  • Install outside security lights.
  • If you feel at risk (more particularly of falls or health problems where you might need to summon help) wear an emergency pager.
  • Seek your neighbours’ assistance e.g. ask them to keep an eye on your place when you are away, mow lawns, park their car up your drive, collect mail.
  • Know the sounds and faces of your neighbourhood.
  • Join the Neighbourhood watch scheme. You can look out for others as well.
  • Keep an Emergency List by the phone. Make sure the print is bold and includes the main number for all major emergencies at the top i.e. 111 (you can forget it in an emergency), your doctors number and family member or friend who can be easily contacted, include any others. (Ask the family member or friend to keep a list of those who you would like contacted in the case of an emergency)
  • Arrange a code with a trusted neighbour so that they can see that you are up and about each day, eg open a curtain or window.
  • Never give an open cheque or your pin number to anyone including bank staff, shop staff or home support workers.  Your bank or the IRD will never ask for your credit card, password or other bank account details over the phone or via email.

Updated 16-06-2015

There are a number of issues to think about and housing options you can choose from. While family members are usually very well meaning, their concerns should not be the only reason that you might consider moving.

The best time to make decisions of this nature is when you can consider your options carefully. There are a number of important factors to consider:

  • Does your current housing meet your needs or do you need to make some changes now or in the near future?
  • Why might you consider moving?
  • What is the cost of staying or moving?
  • What do you like AND dislike about the options you are considering?
  • How easy is it to get to essential services (GP, chemist, shops etc.), family, friends and other important places?
  • If you don’t do anything, what is the worst that could happen?

SUITABILITY

What suits one person doesn’t necessarily suit another so it’s important to clarify what’s important to you.  One way to do this is to consider the following questions (and any others that you think of) and rank them according to their value to you:

  • is the location important e.g. close to family, amenities, church, clubs etc.;
  • do you have any emotional attachments of any sort;
  • how important is the size of the home;
  • what is access to transport like;
  • what are the maintenance issues;
  • does the layout of the home and property suit you;
  •  how easy is access;
  • what safety features are there;
  • is it warm;
  • what are the ongoing costs (rates, insurance, heating);
  • etc.?

You can also consider each of the above questions in relation to the options you are considering, weigh up the positive and negative aspects of each and then analyse the outcome. Your most suitable option should emerge.

If you decide to make a change it is preferable to do this while you are still able to adapt to your new home and community.

HOUSING OPTIONS

Staying where you are

The first option to consider is, staying where you are. Do you understand what lies behind your family’s concerns? Perhaps they are worried about maintenance of the property, the suitability of the home should you have a disability, your possible loneliness, etc.. If not, ask them to clarify this; knowing more about their concerns will help you better weigh up your options.  

Your family’s prompting may in fact be timely; perhaps you have not given your future housing needs a lot of thought and on reflection feel that this is worth considering. Use the questions above to help you find your perfect place.  

If you want to stay where you are but there are some concerning issues then this may be the time to get some help in the home. These may include: alterations to the home, the provision of aids, domestic or personal care assistance and making new social contacts.   Your local Needs Assessment and Service Coordination service (NASC) will be able to advise you as to whether you may be eligible for some assistance and support (usually determined by an assessment).

If you don’t want to sell your home but you do need support to stay there you may want to consider the option of purchasing private home support services (particularly if you are not eligible for funded services).  Some home or property owners have freed up money to do this via a ‘reverse mortgage’. Approach a ‘reverse mortgage’ with caution and get independent legal and financial advice. You need to know that once you have made this choice you reduce all other options. Your lawyer will alert you to issues you need to be aware of, such as compounding interest on reverse mortgages, which may be considerable, and the value of a ‘no-negative equity guarantee’ clause.

If one of the things holding you back from making a decision is the thought of sorting through years of accumulated belongings, you are not alone; there are however agencies that can help you manage this thereby freeing you up to decide what you want to do.

Downsizing to a smaller house

This is a common option for those who plan in advance.

Ownership flat or similar

For those that are selling their own home a common option is that of purchasing an ownership flat or a unit in an over 60s housing complex.  The smaller size will reduce the amount of household chores and cost of heating and other outgoings.  Some cluster type housing requires owners to belong to a body corporate so take some time to find out how these operate.

Retirement/Lifestyle Village

One of the other choices some people have, is the option to move into a retirement village. Retirement complexes do offer the companionship of those of a similar age and in some instances a range of care and support. These complexes generally have a high profile and their marketing is extensive. If you are considering a move to a retirement complex it is important to understand what the implications are. Those making this move must seek comprehensive, independent legal advice. The legal agreements are different to any other you are likely to have made and the ways in which legal titles are held vary between villages and they can be complex and confusing. For further information see the question 'What is involved in purchasing a unit in a Retirement Village?'

Co-housing/boarding

While co-housing or boarding is often a suitable arrangement for those who like companionship it can also meet the needs of those who are quite private (depending on how the home is arranged).  As with a flatting arrangement it is important to know and feel comfortable with the people you will be sharing the home with and have clear guidelines in place as to how the household will operate.

Renting

While many older people own their own home an increasing number now rent. Age appropriate design and good landlord tenant relationships are important factors to consider. For advice see the government’s Tenancy Services www.dbh.govt.nz  freephone 0800 836 262. Most Local Body Councils also operate rental housing complexes for older people or those on lower incomes.  Sometimes age is not a criterion for entry so the other residents in the rental complex can be from various age groups and backgrounds.

Supported Living

If you are considering moving because you need some support a supported/assisted living arrangement may be worth considering.  This is a large home or facility where residents pay a weekly rental and are largely independent but are given support with some tasks such as housekeeping or by the provision of meals.  Residents have their own rooms/suites and share common living areas.  Abbeyfield facilities are an example of this kind of living arrangement.  You can get more information about Abbeyfield Houses throughout New Zealand from their website www.abbeyfield.co.nz  This living option allows you to maintain your independence but provides support and companionship which many find to be a good combination.

Moving into a granny flat

Usually located on a family member’s property, a flat allows you to live close-by while staying independent. Many flats are transportable making them a good option for some. Contact the local council regarding consent. Respectful relationships are important. (It is important to retain your financial independence. It provides protection for you and your family. If you need assistance with your financial affairs your bank or Age Concern can advise you how to set things up and who to consult.)

Moving in with family

This option works well for those where the family and older person are respectful of each-other and have clear, open communication. (It is important to retain your financial independence. It provides protection for you and your family. If you need assistance with your financial affairs your bank or Age Concern can advise you how to set things up and who to consult.

Make your own choice

Quite often older people are encouraged to move by caring family members who are worried about them either being on their own or coping adequately with day to day activities.  While the family members quite likely have the older person’s best interests at heart it is important that they do not pressure or make decisions for the older person.  If you are feeling pressured by family you may want to consider contacting an organization such as Age Concern for some impartial advice on your situation and perhaps someone who can act as a support person for you with the family.

Finally, if you have the opportunity, look for or create an older person friendly home. ‘Lifemark’ advise you to think about the key features: accessibility, adaptability, usability, safety and lifetime value that make a home suitable for life and  www.goodhomes.co.nz  gives lots of ideas about how to stay on-top of your repairs and home maintenance.

Updated 16-06-2015

This depends on a number of factors including why you need the services, whether other household members can help out and whether you have a Community Services card.

  • If you are being discharged from hospital you may receive subsidised support for a short period of time while you convalesce. Other household members are often expected to assist with household tasks.
  • If you need support long term or indefinitely your eligibility for subsidised services is determined by a ‘needs assessment’. In this situation a range of  outcomes are possible including:
    • If you need help with housework and/or the chores you usually do then generally other members of the household will be expected to do them. If for some reason they are not able to, then in some instances, you may be able to receive subsidised support if you have a Community Services card.
    • If you require a ‘personal care’ type of service (e.g. assistance with showering, dressing, toileting etc.) then this service is generally subsidised and provided by a home support worker. You do not need a Community Services card.
    • If you (and your caregiver – if you have one) have a high level of need a specialised ‘package’ of subsidised support may be provided.
    • If you are prepared to pay privately you may be able to buy a wide range of services from various home support agencies.

As each situation is unique you need to be guided by your local NASC team.

Seniorline 0800 725 463 may also be able to advise.

Updated 02-07-2015

Talking with older people about such issues can be difficult. Some older people are fearful about becoming dependant on others and may therefore deny what really is going on and in some instances become angry and defensive. They may also blame themselves for their circumstances or feel that you are trying to take control of their life. And some people are happy to live the way they are. Helpful tips about talking these issues through include:

• making time to talk about it when you are both feeling ok;

• encouraging the person to speak about any fears they may have e.g. worried that this conversation will lead to them ‘going into care’.

• listening carefully and not minimising what they are saying.

• expressing your concerns.

• being honest about what you can and can’t do to assist them.

• talking through all the options together.

• encouraging the person to make an independent decision if possible.

If you are not making any progress, you are still concerned and you are the caregiver/supporter, tell the person that you would like an independent opinion eg the Assessment Service or General Practitioner (GP). Go ahead and make this contact. You are the person seeking help for yourself.
People who are competent to make their own decisions are able to decide how they want to live. Care must be taken therefore to not make judgments about others living conditions. If there are public health issues however, you should refer the situation to the GP or Health Department.
Carers New Zealand is a national charitable trust to help carers of all ages. Their web site contains extensive information http://www.carers.net.nz
 
Updated: 16-06-2015

The Home Support agency should have given your mother a ‘Support Plan’ which details the services being provided. Is she happy for you to look at that with her?

It sounds as though your mother is receiving what is commonly referred to as a ‘restorative’ service. A ‘restorative’ home help service is quite different to a more traditional type of cleaning service. The former is about helping people regain or maintain their abilities etc.; the latter is about getting a job done.

This means that the worker will do things differently with your mother than how you might expect. S/he will do fewer things ‘for’ your mother and more ‘with’ her. The process is likely to include setting some goals and making a plan of how things could be done in order to help her grow her confidence and achieve her goals.

This type of services is quite actively promoted in some DHB (District Health Board) areas and is based on the understanding that if older people don’t actively maintain their skills and abilities they can quickly lose them, and along with them their confidence to be able to do things for themselves. It’s very easy for the confidence of older people to be undermined; a near slip or fall can make the person over cautious, influencing their subsequent actions or a casual comment such as “Oh you’re still driving at your age” can be enough to put someone off driving. So it is with household tasks; it is much harder to do them with confidence after someone else has done them for you, even it was for only a relatively short period.

A restorative type of service has usually been put in place following an assessment provided via the local DHB. Often this assessment follows on from an adverse health event e.g. stroke, fall etc. After such an event (and where it is considered to be achievable) it is important to restore confidence and abilities as quickly as possible. It has been shown that doing things for people, when they do have some ability to do part or all of the task for themselves (even if they are slow) is just not helpful in the long term. Of course in some situations there are things that older people will not be able to do for themselves and in those situations, things will need to be done for them.

Common restorative approaches include:

  • Encouraging the person to do thing that they haven’t done for a while and would like to get back to doing, e.g. the dishes, preparing and cooking food, hanging out washing, walking to the gate for the mail etc.
  • Showing people how to ‘pace themselves’ i.e. doing things differently so they still get the job done, e.g. vacuuming only one room at a time instead of doing the whole house
  • Building some gentle and safe exercise activities into their day e.g. showing that by putting things away in higher and lower shelves and cupboards they are stretching and bending a little more.

While ‘restorative’ types of services are provided by many DHBs they are not provided by all. In some instances private home support agencies will also be able to offer a restorative service.

In the event that your mother is not receiving a ‘restorative’ service and indeed the home help person is not doing the work that they are supposed to be doing then you need to make further investigations. Please see the section: Making a Complaint.

Updated: 13-06-2015

Some home support services may be free to the client. There may be a part charge or you may have to pay for your services yourself. It depends on your situation. Funding agencies such as the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and the District Health Board (DHB) have an assessment process that considers eligibility.

If you want to access any DHB subsidised service your needs must be assessed by someone from their contracted assessment agency. Eligibility criteria including financial criteria also apply. Generally those who hold a Community Services Card will be eligible for subsidised services. There may however be services such as personal assistance (help with showering, bathing, etc) carer support etc that non-cardholders can access. For full information talk to someone from your local NASC team. See also the section 'What financial assistance may be available?'

You may contact a NASC agency yourself or go through your GP. There is no cost for an assessment. If you go through your GP you will need to pay the usual GP charge.

One thing that it is helpful to remember is; that if the person getting subsidised home support services would like more hours/services than have been allocated, it is possible to purchase additional hours/services. The additional hours/services do not have to be purchased from the same agency.

 

Updated: 16-06-2015

This can be quite a hard issue to cope with as you may feel you should just take what’s given and not complain. This isn’t so; the work done by people who come into your home to help you is expected to meet required standards. The problem can be addressed.

If you allow the situation to go on as it is, it often leads to a sense of powerlessness. Try to take control of the situation or tell someone else who can do this for you.

The things that you can do to sort your situation out depend on what the problem is and how serious it is. In many instances it could be as simple you having an honest talk to the worker or for the agency to change the worker to someone more suited to you and your needs.

The following scenarios are quite typical:

Senario 1 – Helping the helper 

Perhaps you are not used to having people come into your home to help you. You may also feel a little embarrassed about this, so you tidy things up before your home help person arrives. This can lead to the roles between yourself and the home help person becoming a bit muddled. Consequently the real situation is masked and the worker really doesn’t know what to do.

Moving towards a solution :

  • Remind yourself that you have either been assessed as requiring assistance or you have chosen to engage someone to help you. It’s ok to have help.
  • Resist the urge to help the worker out ie don’t do the housework before they come.

 

Senario 2 – Time wasting 

It is fairly natural that you may want to be polite and offer hospitality. Sometimes however, sitting down for a ‘cuppa’ can go beyond a quick ‘cuppa’ and become an excuse for the worker to do nothing. Also, if you are lonely, you may initially enjoy having someone to talk to but realise later that the work isn’t being done. You feel ‘taken advantage of’.

Moving towards a solution :

  • Unless a cuppa etc has been pre-arranged then this is not expected. This person is there to do paid work.
  • The manager should have set out the tasks with you so that you know what jobs will be done.

 

Senario 3 – Doing the job differently 

Another problem people complain about relates to the way in which jobs are done.

Moving towards a solution

  • If something is particularly important to you, you might want to be clearer about this, eg explain how you want the vacuuming done (perhaps you want the dining chairs moved before the floor area is vacumed.

 

other Ideas for addressing the problem include:

  • Go back to your initial contract or agreement. In a clear way tell the person you think that things have got away from the original plan and that you would like to start over again. Clarify things that need sorting out.
  • If this is not successful or possible (e.g. if you think it would be rude, if you are intimidated by the person) speak to the manager and tell them about your difficulty.
  • Ask the manager how they will deal with the problem, what they expect the outcome to be and how long they think it will take. Ask what will happen if it is not resolved.
  • If you are getting a subsidised service and you’ve tried to resolve things you may contact your Service Coordinator . This person will discuss options with you, help you address the issue if required or refer this to other appropriate authorities.
  • If subsidised services are not meeting the required standards then you can let the funding authorities know (if you know which authority funds your service). Funding authorities include the District Health Board (DHB), ACC etc.
  • The New Zealand Home Health Association has an interest in industry standards. They will have processes in place if a complaint is made about one of their members.
  • Consumer Advocacy Services are available to all users of health and disability services. The service is free and confidential.
  • You may contact the office of The Health and Disability Commissioner  particularly if you believe your rights have been infringed.

 

Very occasionally serious misconduct e.g. theft, abuse etc. occurs. Report this to the person in authority and/or the police immediately

 

Updated 13-07-2015

 

WORK & INCOME

The Work and Income web site contains comprehensive information about government assistance that may be available from this department. Please note: eligibility criteria apply.

The website is divided into different sections to make it easier to find your way around. Continue to follow the links in these sections to gain more comprehensive information. The more comprehensive information is found in the sections 'Manuals and procedures'.

Main benefits include:

New Zealand Superannuation for those over 65 years of age

Widows Benefit for women whose husband or partner has died.

Domestic Purposes includes those over 16 years of age caring for someone living at home (other than their partner) who would otherwise require hospital care, in some cases an older woman living alone

Unsupported Childs Benefit may be available for grandparents caring for grandchildren. (See also the useful brochure ‘Help for Kinship Carers’ You will be asked if you want to open or save the file).

War and Veterans Pensions If you have ‘served’ you may be entitled to a War or Veterans pension or other special benefits.

Details about benefits that may be available for those experiencing financial hardship include:

Special Needs Grant urgent one-off payment.

Temporary Additional Support - short term only – replaces Special Benefit (grand parenting applies to those previously receiving a Special Benefit) See also Recoverable Assistance Payment

Advance Payment to help pay for the things you need (you have to pay it back)

Other assistance includes:

Accommodation Supplement

Community Services Card This card can help you with the cost of health care.

Disability Allowance It must be shown that the disability is likely to last at least six weeks and you need to be able to demonstrate that the costs incurred are regular and ongoing. Other eligibility criteria also apply. There are examples on the site of what type of costs may be claimed.

Special Disability Allowance This payment is designed to help cover the extra costs for those whose partner is in residential care.

Funeral Grant This grant is not intended to cover the full cost of a funeral.

House Modification Grant - Please note the District Health Board pays this grant. Work & Income administer the Income & Asset test

Living Alone Superannuation Rate - for single people or those considered to be single and living alone. Check this if your circumstances have changed and alert WINZ

Residential Care Subsidy (see also the Eldernet section on Residential Care Frequent Questions) Please note this subsidy is paid by the District Health Board. Work & Income administer the Income & Asset test

If you can not find the information you are looking for you may find Extra Help useful.

 

DISTRICT HEALTH BOARD (DHB)

DHB’S are contracted by the government to provide home-based services If you have had an assessment you may be eligible for free or subsidised 
services. Subsidised services are provided by one of the DHB contracted agencies in your region. Services may also be purchased privately.

In the past, services have been offered more on a ‘prescribed’ basis i.e. the agency tells you what they can provide and you decide what is going to be most helpful. There is now a move away from this approach to services that are more responsive to individual needs. Having said this, consistently the same sorts of need arise such as:

  • help to get in or out of bed
  • housework
  • personal care (showering/bathing/toileting etc.)
  • meals or preparation of meals
  • shopping
  • short breaks
  • day activity options
  • continence advice and support
  • district nursing services e.g. medication, wound care etc.
  • Falls Prevention programmes (in some areas only & criteria may apply)
  • night sleep over (in some instances)

It may be that what you want most, is to make sure someone exercises your dog! If you can be clear about what you need to enable you to live as independently as possible then it is hoped that the service can be flexible enough to accommodate this or will refer you elsewhere if it cannot.

For specific information about your region contact your local agency (see HERE)

 

HOUSING NEW ZEALAND

Housing New Zealand offers a ‘Suitable Homes’ advisory service. Eligibility criteria apply. Please note the service does not pay for the modifications but they can point you in the right direction. See also the section - Ministry of Health – Disability Funding.

 

ACCIDENT COMPENSATION CORPORATION (ACC)

For details about funding pertaining to accident related situations see the ACC website. The ACC Covered web site includes specific information about the type of assistance that may be available, funding, aids etc.

ACC also has an accident prevention role. The web site includes sections such as:

  • Falls Prevention
  • Home Safety
  • Modified Tai Chi

 

MINISTRY OF HEALTH DISABILITY FUNDING

The Enable New Zealand web site provides comprehensive information about:

  • Specialised equipment
  • Housing modifications
  • Vehicle purchase, vehicle modifications and driving assessments

THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS

From 1st July 2006 the rates rebate threshold was increased. This means that many more people will now be eligible. To find out more about the scheme and to determine your eligibility see the Internal Affairs website www.dia.govt.nz or click HERE.


Please note this section is intended as a guide only. It is not definitive. Eldernet does not accept any responsibility for people taking action based on this information alone. Please therefore ensure that you seek the appropriate advice from the agency concerned or your financial advisor.

 

Updated 2015-07-14

This is a sensitive subject, given that people find it very difficult admitting that maybe everything is not well behind closed doors. Its beginning is often insidious; the issues are often complex and  it is easy to convince yourself that this is just ‘normal family dynamics’.

A good test of this reasoning is that; if a stranger were to be treated this way would you think it was ok?

By the time it becomes more obvious the person being abused can even begin defending the abuser. Psychological factors such as blaming the older person for the situation can make the older person feel responsible for what is happening to them e.g. “It’s my fault. I’m so slow these days, no wonder they yell at me.”

The victims of abuse are usually more frail and dependent on others. Research has shown that the most likely perpetrators of the abuse are family members especially daughter/daughter in law or son. Anyone can perpetrate abuse and this includes partners, friends, home help personnel and residential care workers.

The types of abuse include:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves the wilful infliction of injury or pain and includes actions such as burning, slapping, hitting, bruising, squeezing, restraining, inappropriate use of or the withholding of medication etc.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse involves unwanted sexual contact. Threats or force may be involved.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is the inappropriate, illegal or improper exploitation of the funds of the older person. This may be without the victims consent or if it is, it may be under duress. Examples include demanding the pin number of bank accounts etc.

Emotional/Psychological Abuse

Emotional/ Psychological abuse involves the infliction of mental or emotional anguish or fear. It may involve humiliation, intimidation, threats or removal of decision-making powers.

Neglect

Neglect is the failure to provide the basic necessities of life e.g. adequate meals, heating, clothing etc. Active neglect is the conscious deprivation of the basic necessities. Passive neglect often results from a caregivers refusal or failure to provide those necessities because of their own lack of information or refusal to follow the directions of health professionals etc.

Institutional abuse

Although much less common, institutional abuse can occur in places such as residential care homes. Questions should be asked for example: if a resident shows ‘grip marks’ on their skin, is becoming withdrawn or fearful, is making inappropriate gifts or giving money to staff, or staff are explaining ‘accidents’ or ‘omissions of care’ with excuses such as: ‘I forgot about him’ or ‘He’s always calling out. He doesn’t need anything’ etc.

Factors that increase the likelihood of abuse

Caregiving can be stressful and stress is one of the factors that are most commonly seen in abusive situations. Other factors that increase the likelihood of abuse include;

  • Mental health issues and psychosocial problems.
  • Abuse of alcohol and drugs.
  • Depression
  • Culture of violence.
  • Social isolation of both caregiver and older person.
  • Lack of self-esteem of both caregiver and older person.
  • Inadequate caregiving skills
  • Financial problems
  • Overcrowded living situations

Factors that keep people tied into abusive relationships include:

  • feelings such as fear of the abusers wrath, shame, guilt etc
  • being stoical e.g. "it's not that bad"
  • being ‘too’ trusting
  • previous promises made e.g. "I will leave you the house if you look after me.”
  • financial dependency
  • lack of knowledge about their options

Protective factors for the older person:

  • Assertive personality
  • Educated about rights
  • Having supportive family/friends/peer networks
  • Development of coping strategies

Getting help

If you are in an abusive situation, or you know about an older person who is, talk to someone who will take it seriously and help you work out a plan of action. Abusive situations are damaging to all parties. You do not have to ‘put up with it’.

Age Concern is the biggest provider of Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services. These services raise awareness and provide education about prevention. They also co-ordinate responses to cases of abuse and/or neglect of older people. Their website has extensive information about the subject and lists of all contracted providers of these services. Other agencies you can contact for assistance and/or advice include:

  • Your Doctor or Practice Nurse
  • A Social Worker
  • Citizens Advice Bureaux www.cab.org.nz
  • Solicitors
  • Public Trust
  • Community Law Centres
  • The Police
  • Ethnic support groups
  • Ministers of religion
  • Health Support Groups eg Parkinson Society etc
  • Department of Work and Income http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/
  • HELP Auckland (for those in the Auckland region)

The reporting of Elder Abuse is not mandatory however under the Crimes Act 1961 someone who has frequent contact with and is a member of the same household as the person being abused/neglected; or someone who is a staff member of any hospital, institution, or residence where the person lives must take reasonable steps to protect the older person from that risk.

If the person who is aware of the issue is a professional, or is acting in a professional way, they should discuss various options with the person concerned and encourage them to take more control of their life. Appropriate support should also be found.

It needs to be understood that if children or vulnerable people are at risk then those who know about the situation have an ethical obligation to ensure their safety. A person acting in a responsible way will make sure that this is done.

Further reading

A report Beyond Zero Tolerance: Key issues and future directions for family violence work in New Zealand published in August 2005 by the Families Commission 

Elder Abuse Fact Sheet

Elder Abuse and Neglect Report 2008

 

Updated 2015-07-15

Most of us are familiar with the high profile Retirement/Lifestyle Village complexes located around the country. They may have associated onsite residential care services or they may be of the variety that includes multiple resources such as a golf course and/or swimming pool, shops, restaurants and other services; to the extent that they seem like a small town. Not all villages however are like this. Some are quite small. In fact the range of Retirement/Lifestyle Villages is almost as varied as the lifestyles represented in this target population.

The definition of a Retirement Village (See The Retirement Villages Act 2003 [The Act]) is broader than you may think. Key points:

  • it includes small facilities i.e. two or more units and;
  • for the purpose of accommodation with services and or facilities and;
  • predominantly for those who are retired and;
  • where people agree to pay a capital sum or other payments as defined in The Act (see above) to live there.

With such a range of possibilities there could be a Retirement or Lifestyle Village to suit you.

Residents enjoy village life

The Retirement Villages Survey 2006 undertaken by the Commission for Financial Capability (previously the Retirement Commission) showed a large percentage of residents were very happy with their experience of retirement village life. Retirement/Lifestyle Villages appeal to people for a number of reasons. A village can offer you a number of benefits, such as:

  • an improved social life with a new network of friends,
  • access to planned activities and community resources,
  • increased peace of mind (some villages offer internal call bells and on site security),
  • difficult jobs like lawn mowing and exterior painting/maintenance are usually taken care of,
  • access to prime locations (depending on their situation e.g. beachside, adjacent to golf course, riverside, hill ridge etc.),
  • proximity to town centers or services (depending on their situation),
  • reassurance for your family and friends (knowing that someone else is nearby to assist you if the need arises).

Taking the first step

When you ‘buy into’ a retirement/lifestyle village you pay a lump sum or capital amount. Thereafter ongoing fees apply. Before you take the first step however you need to seek independent legal advice as the issues pertaining to this sector are complex.

The Retirement Villages Act 2003 is designed to make things clearer so that you are better informed both before you make your decision and during your occupancy.

Each village differs from the next; there are a variety of legal titles, some will offer a full range of accommodation types and services and others less. Each has its own set of ‘rules’ which can cover things like pet ownership through to defining whether you can access community support services (funded or otherwise). The Act is designed to fully disclose these and other aspects of moving into a village.

With the introduction of The Act all villages are now required to:

  • be registered,
  • have a statutory supervisor (an appointed independent person to help protect residents interests),
  • provide intending residents with a copy of: the residents code of rights, the village code practice, the disclosure statement and an occupation right agreement (ORA),
  • provide a process for communicating with and involving village residents, and
  • provide a process for handling complaints and disputes.

The Act also requires that you, as an intending resident: get an independent lawyer to explain the ORA and its implications before signing the agreement.

Financial considerations

The financial implications of a move into a village are considerable. Villages will charge a monthly fee to cover the services and the care and maintenance of the grounds and buildings in the village. These service fees will vary from site to site, so check what the fee covers in the village you are considering.

Remember to consider things like:

  • Can you cover the monthly fees?
  • Who is responsible for paying the utility fees, rates etc?
  • If you change your mind and decide a village isn’t for you, will you have enough money to purchase back in the community?
  • If your needs change and you require residential care are there services on site or will you have to move to another premises?
  • What are the implications of your ORA – will you share in any capital gain?
  • What is the cost for refurbishment when you leave your unit?
  • How will your unit be re-sold?
  • Who is responsible for selling the unit?
  • If your unit doesn’t sell quickly what are the financial implications?

There is ‘cooling down’ provision in The Act of 15 days. Keep this knowledge in the back of your mind when you sign. It’s another protection for you.

FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:

Register of Retirement Villages (New Zealand Companies Office)

All Retirement Villages are required to be registered with the New Zealand Companies Office and must file an annual return.

The Companies website allows you to search the Register for any retirement village and obtain details about directors and share parcels. There is also a section for Retirement Village operators.

The website includes links to the following:

Sorted

“Sorted is New Zealand’s free independent money guide, run by the Commission for Financial Capability. It’s full of calculators and information to help you manage your personal finances throughout life .” It also includes sections on ‘Living in Retirement’‘Losing Your Partner' and ‘Moving to a Retirement Village’. The website has a lot of helpful information for intending Retirement Village residents.

The Commission for Financial Capability

“The Commission for Financial Capability is an autonomous crown entity that helps New Zealanders prepare financially for their retirement.” This website will help you learn more about your rights and retirement village operator’s obligations. Check this site if you need more information about:

 

The booklet Thinking of living in a retirement village is available to download from the internet or you can order a free copy. 

The Retirement Villages Association

“The Retirement Villages Association [RVA] is a voluntary membership association for operators of retirement villages in New Zealand and individuals / commercial organisations that work in the retirement villages sector.

The RVA is a national body that works to represent, protect and promote the interests of its members and their associated services."

There is a membership Code of Practice.

The website includes:

 

Finally - Download the Eldernet Retirement Villages Checklist 

 

Updated 2015-07-14

Generally, Retirement Village operators have designed serviced apartments (and other similar services) so that increasing (or decreasing) ‘packages’ of support can be offered as residents’ needs change. However, rather than making assumptions about your increasing need for support (and running the risk that you over look something that might be able to be addressed/treated) it is recommended that a ‘needs assessment’ is obtained from the experts at the older persons service in your area.

An assessment will establish what your real needs are and whether these are able to be addressed (e.g. rehabilitation may be offered, or medical conditions treated etc.). You will then be in a better position to know exactly what is required. If it is clear that you need more support a recommendation will be made outlining the nature of this support.

You may be able to purchase the necessary support from the Retirement Village. Your contract with the Retirement Village should state just what services are available for purchase and the extent of these (e.g. rest home level of care, hospital level of care etc.). It should also indicate what will happen if you run out of your own funds.

In some situations and in some villages parts of the Retirement Village (e.g. care apartments, serviced apartments, studio units, etc.) may also be ‘certified’ by the government certifying agency and ‘contracted’ to your local District Health Board (DHB) to:

  • enable residents in these rooms to receive the same types of services that residents in the care facility receive and
  • to access a Residential Care Subsidy (RCS) should they run out of their own funds.

Your eligibility is established firstly by your needs assessment and secondly via a financial means assessment. (See also the residential care Frequent Question ‘Will I have to pay for my care?’)  

One of the difficulties with understanding this new service is working out who pays for what when a subsidy is involved. Specific rules apply in such situations. 

Whether you are privately paying or receiving a RCS it is likely that the Retirement Village will also assess the situation to decide whether they can in fact safely deliver the level of care to you in your apartment that you require.

Updated 2015-07-14

 

An ‘occupation right agreement’ is a generic name given to any written agreement that gives a person the right to occupy a unit in a retirement village and that sets out the relevant terms and conditions.

The occupation right agreement must be clear and unambiguous. It may consist of more than one document.

The occupation right agreement must comply and be consistent with the provisions of the Retirement Villages Act 2003, the Retirement Village (General) Regulations 1996 and the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008. Each of the Act, the Regulations and the Code has been updated in the years since their introduction. Operators must register their standard form of occupation right agreement with the Registrar of Retirement Villages.

Schedule 3 of the Act, and the Regulations, set out what must be covered in the occupation right agreement, and Part 2 of the Act covers the process for entering into an agreement. The Code of Practice specifies minimum requirements for the day-to-day operation of the village and, by virtue of section 92 of the Act, will take priority in the event that a clause in an occupation right agreement is less favourable to a resident than a similar clause in the Code of Practice.

What issues does the occupation right agreement have to deal with?

The village and its operations

The occupation right agreement must cover:

  • the management of the village
  • the village's services and facilities
  • the nature of the resident's right to occupy the unit, and the resident's and operator's respective rights to deal with the unit
  • the charges relating to the village and to the use of its services and facilities
  • the operator's obligation to run the village properly
  • the operator’s obligation to insure the village appropriately, and the resident’s rights if the unit in which they live is damaged or destroyed
  • the resident's rights to be given financial documents and other relevant information that they ask for
  • staffing
  • residents' safety and personal security
  • fire protection and emergency management
  • the transfer of residents within the village
  • meetings of residents with the operator
  • accounts
  • maintenance and upgrading
  • termination of the agreement by a resident or the operator
  • communication to those for whom English is a second language or whose ability to communicate is limited
  • a complaints facility and a disputes procedure.

Consultation with residents

The occupation right agreement must also require the operator to consult with residents:

  • before a village is sold or disposed of
  • before a new manager is appointed
  • about any proposed changes to the services or benefits provided or to charges that could affect residents' ability to pay for them.

Treatment of residents

In addition, the occupation right agreement must require the operator and the people who work at the village and provide services to:

  • treat the residents with courtesy
  • respect their rights
  • not exploit them.

Where the village or unit hasn't been built

If the village or unit is not yet completed when the occupation right agreement is signed, the agreement must state the unit's proposed completion date. The disclosure statement given to the intending resident before they signed the occupation right agreement must also give information about the state of the village, including its stage of completion.

Getting independent legal advice before the agreement is signed

Intending residents must get independent legal advice before they sign an occupation right agreement. This means advice from a lawyer who is completely independent of the retirement village operator.

The lawyer must explain to the intending resident the general effect of the agreement and its implications, before the person signs it. This lawyer must do this in a way that is appropriate to the person's age and understanding. The lawyer must then witness the person's signature and certify that they explained these things.

It is not enough that a person such as a staff member from the village explains the occupation right agreement to the intending resident, it must be an independent lawyer (and not a legal executive).

If in some substantial way any of these requirements is not met, or under certain other specific circumstances described in the Act, a resident can avoid (cancel) the occupation right agreement.

Cancelling an agreement during a "cooling-off" period, or for delay

A "cooling-off" period after the agreement is signed

After new residents have signed an occupation right agreement, they have 15 working days in which they can change their mind and cancel the agreement. This applies to everyone who signs an occupation right agreement with a retirement village. It is not necessary for the operator to have done anything wrong.

The cancellation must be notified in writing to the operator or their agent. No particular words need be used, so long as the intention to cancel is clear. No reason has to be given.

Once the agreement is cancelled, the person is entitled to have returned to them everything they have paid, plus net interest (if any), within 10 working days. However, they must pay for any services they have used if they lived in the unit during this period, and for any damage they may have caused during the period of their occupancy although, at a practical level, most operators will not permit a resident to move into a unit until the cooling-off period has passed.

Cancellation for delay

The intending resident can cancel the occupation right agreement if the unit is not, for practical purposes, completed within six months of the proposed completion date. They can do this any time after the six-month period. They must then be refunded all payments they have made including net interest (if any).

The buyer must notify the operator or their agent in writing that they are cancelling the agreement. They do not have to use any particular words so long as their intention to cancel is clear.

Deposits and progress payments to be independently held

Every deposit, progress payment or other payment that a person makes for a right to live in a unit must be held by an independent stakeholder – typically this will be the village’s statutory supervisor and the money will be held in a trust account. The stakeholder holds the payment until the transaction is settlement date and the cooling-off period has passed, or until the agreement is cancelled during the cooling-off period.

If the retirement village has been granted an exemption from the need to appoint a statutory supervisor, a lawyer nominated by both the resident and operator must hold the money. The nomination must be in writing, in a separate document from the occupation right agreement.

Cancellation of an occupation right agreement other than by way of cooling-off

When can a resident avoid an agreement?

The Act provides limited relief to void an occupation right agreement where a breach is in a substantial respect and:

  • the resident has suffered a significant detriment as a result; or
  • the breach is material and not simply minor or technical in nature; or
  • there has been deliberate misconduct by the operator.

The Act specifies timeframes and what must happen in such circumstances but, generally, a resident  in such a situation could expect to have all money they have paid (including capital sums and payment for services received) returned to them, along with net interest and the costs of cancelling the occupation right agreement.

What happens in the event of a dispute?

An operator must have in place a system for dealing with complaints and, generally, these must be dealt with within 20 working days. In the event that a complaint is not dealt with, or is not dealt with satisfactorily, the resident or the operator may initiate a dispute.  A dispute can between a resident and the operator, or between residents.  Mediation is available by virtue of the Code of Practice and it can be a more effective and quicker mechanism for dealing with a problem than by using the dispute process.

Part 4 of the Act has more information about how a dispute panel is appointed to hear the dispute, and how the dispute will be addressed.  The costs of a dispute panel are typically the responsibility of the operator but the dispute panel may see fit to make the resident responsible for some of the costs incurred as a result of the dispute notice having been given.

The decision of a dispute panel can be appealed to the District Court or, for certain matters, to the High Court.

All dispute panel decisions made since the Act came into force in 2007 are available to be read and/or downloaded from the retirement villages section of the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income website.

Updated 4 August 2014 by Peter Orpin of Lane Neave Lawyers - www.laneneave.co.nz

Under an Act of Parliament called the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, every person is able to put in place a power of attorney known as an Enduring Power of Attorney, sometimes referred to as an EPOA. These powers of attorney come in two forms – one for personal care and welfare (which can only operate when the person who has given the power (the donor) no longer has mental capacity to make their own decisions), and a second for property matters (which can operate at any time). EPOAs permit another person (the attorney) to make binding decisions for the donor. In relation to personal care and welfare, only one attorney can be appointed at any given time, but in relation to property matters, the donor can appoint two or more attorneys, usually to act jointly.

The Act changed with effect from 26 September 2008 but the change did not affect powers of attorney validly in place before that date. The principal change deals with establishing an EPOA and requires a donor to receive independent advice before the document can be signed including the donor having the effect of the EPOA explained to them. The signature of the donor must be witnessed either by a solicitor or by a registered legal executive and importantly, the witness must be independent of the attorney. A lawyer cannot act for the attorney and for the donor, which may seem harsh particularly where perhaps a husband and wife are giving a power of attorney to each other.

The regulations require a donor to address such matters as whether he or she wishes to place any restrictions on the powers available to an attorney, whether the donor wishes the attorney to consult with any other person or persons in the exercise of their duty and how much information the donor wants his or her attorney to provide to any other person. The power of attorney form also requires the donor to specify who they would like to be consulted if there is a question of the donor lacking capacity. An attorney acting under an EPOA for property is able to make a Will for the donor, with the consent of the Court.

The distinct difference between an Enduring Power of Attorney and a ‘traditional’ or ‘general’ power of attorney is that an Enduring Power of Attorney remains in full force and power if for any reason the donor loses mental capacity. All other types of power of attorney ceases to be of effect if or when the donor losses mental capacity. An Enduring Power of Attorney can also act as a ‘general’ power of attorney if the donor wishes, or it can be set up so that it only comes into force if the donor loses mental capacity.

If a person loses mental capacity for any reason and does not have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 provides for an application to be made to the Family Court for someone to be appointed by the Court as either a personal welfare guardian or a property manager, as appropriate. The significant difference is that a donor can choose the person they appoint under an EPOA and make sure that person is aware of the donor wishes in respect of welfare or property decisions.

The cost of establishing an Enduring Power of Attorney is typically less than $1,000 but if an application needs to be made to the Court, following a person’s sudden or unexpected loss of mental capacity, the costs may likely exceed $3,000 and must be paid from the person’s own resources. Government assistance may be available, depending on individual circumstances.

Before making an appointment as welfare guardian or property manager, the Court must be satisfied that there is a genuine loss of mental capacity. Usually, a medical opinion will be required which will be filed with the Court by an independent solicitor. If a property manager is to have the ability to deal with property in excess of $120,000 in value, this will require the consent of the Court.

The appointment of a property manager and/or a welfare guardian must be reviewed by the Court every three years and will typically require the same process to be followed and further costs to be incurred.

Updated 1 July 2015 by Peter Orpin of Lane Neave Lawyers - www.laneneave.co.nz

DISCLAIMER The information provided in this list of Questions and Answers (Q&A) is of a general nature. It is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose. The Q&A is not an alternative to legal advice and does not replace any requirements under any relevant Act, Regulations, Code of Practice, Rule, Standards or Orders. While Eldernet and Lane Neave Lawyers have endeavoured to ensure this information is accurate and as useful as possible, to the fullest extent permitted by law neither organisation accepts any loss, liability or responsibility (whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise) resulting directly or indirectly from any action taken or reliance made by any person on the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided in this Q&A or incorporated into it by reference.

The first of these is Joint Tenancy.  A majority of married people, people in a civil union or people in long term de facto relationships, own their properties as joint tenants.  The significant feature of this form of ownership is that on the death of the first partner, the property automatically passes to the survivor by way of a rule of law known as Survivorship.  It does not matter what is in the first partner’s Will or, for that matter, whether the first partner even has a Will.  The surviving partner will take the entire property in his or her own name.  The property is not administered under the Will of the partner who has died.

The second common form of legal ownership where two (or more) people own property together is Tenancy in common.  Simply, this form of ownership allows for property to be owned in distinct shares.  The most common form is tenancy in common in equal shares, but, by creating a tenancy in common, ownership can be in unequal shares.  Significantly, the rule of survivorship does not apply and, as a consequence, what happens to a person’s share of the property on his or her death depends entirely on what is stated in that person’s Will.  Under a Will, a person holding shares in property as tenant in common’ can leave their share to anyone they choose or may even divide their share between two or more others thereby creating more owners of the same property.  This is one reason why, for example, some Maori land can have a large number of owners, all of whom retain a legal interest in the property.

Rest home subsidies

Where property is owned by joint tenants the whole property passes to the survivor on the death of the other partner.  If the surviving partner then requires either long stay hospital care or rest home care, they will have to meet Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) criteria before qualifying for any Government-subsidised care.

Any person requiring long-term care is, under present rules, means tested in relation to his or her assets and (effectively) in relation to his or her income.  Trusts are often used to remove assets from personal ownership and/or to tailor income to personal circumstances but legal advice must be sought as this is a complex area and mistakes can be costly.  Simply, if the assets of a person who has been assessed as requiring long-term care are less than a certain amount they will be entitled to receive subsidised long-term care.  Again, simply, certain income received may be repatriated by WINZ to refund the subsidy.

A person requiring long-term care who does not qualify for subsidised care, and who does not sell their home to pay for their care, may have their care paid by WINZ subject to WINZ taking a charge (similar to a mortgage) over the home.  Any funds paid for care will typically be secured against the home and will be repaid to WINZ as a priority payment when the home is sold or passed to a new owner under the terms of a Will.

The right to receive, or the possibility of being denied, subsidised long-term care is a concern to a lot of people as they age and their needs change.  Specialist advice should be sought at an early stage in order for people legally to protect their assets and income.

Some people choose tenancy in common as their preferred form of ownership in property.  See 'What is a Life Interest Will?' below for more detail on the reasons why this is so.

Updated 1 July 2015 by Peter Orpin of Lane Neave Lawyers - www.laneneave.co.nz

DISCLAIMER

The information provided in this list of Questions and Answers (Q&A) is of a general nature.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  The Q&A is not an alternative to legal advice and does not replace any requirements under any relevant Act, Regulations, Code of Practice, Rule, Standards or Orders.  While Eldernet and Lane Neave Lawyers have endeavoured to ensure this information is accurate and as useful as possible, to the fullest extent permitted by law neither organisation accepts any loss, liability or responsibility (whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise) resulting directly or indirectly from any action taken or reliance made by any person on the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided in this Q&A or incorporated into it by reference.

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 outlines the law in relation to the division of relationship property, whether on separation and/or on the death of one of a couple.

The Act applies to anyone who is married, in a civil union, or who lives in a de facto relationship (which may include a same sex couple).  The law came into effect on the 1st of February 2002 with the passing of the re named Property (Relationships) Act 1976, formerly known as the Matrimonial Property Act 1976.  Since the 1st of August 2001 married couples, civil union partners and de facto couples have been able to enter into an agreement to contract out of the provisions of the Act.

Prior to the passing of the amendment legislation in 2001 there was no clearly defined legal definition of what constituted a civil union partnership or a de facto relationship, and no statutory basis existed for the division of relationship property on the breakdown of a civil union partnership or a de facto relationship.  The Act now defines a marriage, a civil union, and a de facto relationship.  To assist in determining whether a couple is deemed to be living together, the Act provides a check list of factors to be taken into consideration, including:-

  • the duration of the relationship;
  • whether the couple live together in one house;
  • whether a sexual relationship exists;
  • the degree of financial dependence or interdependence;
  • the ownership, use and acquisition of property;
  • the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
  • the care and support of children;
  • the performance of household duties; and
  • the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

The Court may be called on to decide, as a question of fact, whether a relationship is a de facto relationship in terms of the Act and, if so, the date on which the relationship began.  The start date can be difficult to ascertain and although a couple might maintain separate residences, the Court may still find the existence of a de facto relationship for other reasons, such as the way they hold themselves out to the public as a couple, the degree of financial interdependence which exists between them or the presence of children.

A marriage, civil union or de facto relationship of short duration is deemed by the Act to be one in which the partners have lived together as husband and wife, civil union partners or de facto partners for less than three years.  Establishing the date that a de facto relationship began could therefore have significant financial implications.  It should also be noted that under the Act, where a couple live together as de facto partners and then marry or enter into a civil union, the Court will typically include the time prior to the marriage or civil union in calculating the total duration of the marriage or civil union.

Where division of relationship property is required, the Act makes a presumption of equal sharing unless the marriage, civil union or de facto relationship is one of short duration, if there are extraordinary circumstances which make equal sharing repugnant to justice, or where there is economic disparity.  Relationship property will include the family home and chattels, all property acquired after the relationship began, property acquired in contemplation of the relationship or intended for the common use or benefit of the parties.

In cases where there is significant economic disparity between the parties following separation, there is provision either for a departure from the equal sharing presumption or for the postponing of property sharing in order to prevent undue hardship on either spouse or partner.

It is still possible for one spouse or partner to retain separate property under the Act, common examples of which might include inheritances or gifts.  It is important to maintain such property as being clearly separate because any degree of intermingling with other relationship property could lead to the separate property becoming relationship property.  The special nature of separate property can be lost where, for example, an inheritance is used to pay off or reduce a joint mortgage on the family home, or where an inherited house is lived in by the couple.  In either of these circumstances, what was separate property will almost certainly become relationship property.

Significantly, the Act also affects the division of property on the death of a spouse, civil union partner or de facto partner.  A surviving partner now has an option of whether to:

A)     accept an inheritance under the Will of the deceased partner; or

B)      make a claim under the Act for their share of the relationship property.

Any such claim must be lodged within six months of death or the date of grant of administration of the estate, whichever is the later.

On its face, the Act favours the surviving partner as it is presumed that all property of the deceased partner at the time of death is relationship property and, furthermore, that all property acquired by the estate of the deceased partner is also relationship property.  Once a surviving partner elects to exercise option B and lodge a claim against the estate, every gift to that person under the Will of the deceased is revoked unless it is clearly intended from the Will that the survivor receive those gifts regardless of the outcome of any claim.

Where property is transferred to a trust during the course of a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship, and this has the effect of defeating the sharing of relationship property, the Court can order compensation to be paid either in the form of money, by property being transferred to the partner or spouse, or by an order that trust income be paid to a partner or spouse for a specified period.

The legislation has potentially far reaching consequences for all couples (married, civil union or de facto) on the separation or death of a spouse or partner.

Updated 1 July 2015 by Peter Orpin of Lane Neave Lawyers - www.laneneave.co.nz

DISCLAIMER

The information provided in this list of Questions and Answers (Q&A) is of a general nature.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  The Q&A is not an alternative to legal advice and does not replace any requirements under any relevant Act, Regulations, Code of Practice, Rule, Standards or Orders.  While Eldernet and Lane Neave Lawyers have endeavoured to ensure this information is accurate and as useful as possible, to the fullest extent permitted by law neither organisation accepts any loss, liability or responsibility (whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise) resulting directly or indirectly from any action taken or reliance made by any person on the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided in this Q&A or incorporated into it by reference.

If property is owned by two or more persons as tenants in common, they are free to leave their share of the property in such manner as they choose in their Will.

Where, say as a husband and wife, a family home is owned as tenants in common in equal shares, either spouse may leave a life interest in their Will to the surviving spouse.  On the death of the first spouse, his or her estate will be administered by the executor(s) appointed in the Will who will then typically take on the role of trustee(s) to administer the right of the surviving spouse to live in the property for the remainder of his or her lifetime.  Upon the ultimate death of the surviving spouse, the share of the property that is still owned by the first spouse will be passed to the final or residuary beneficiaries named in the first spouse’s Will.

Under this scenario the surviving spouse, as a tenant in common, only owns their share of the property in his or her own name.  The other share is recorded on the Certificate of Title as being in the name of the trustee(s) and to be dealt with as specified in the first spouse’s Will.  Should the surviving spouse at any time require long-term care, they may be more likely to qualify for subsidised care as, in making any declaration to WINZ about the extent of their assets, they need only declare ownership of the other part of the property that they own as he or she enjoy only a life interest in the other part of the property.

Even if the family home is sold (or at least charged by WINZ) to pay for long-term care, only the sale proceeds from the part of the property owned by the surviving spouse/partner (subject to the allowable asset limits) need be used to pay for long-term care.  As subsidised long-term care is (effectively) income tested, if the house were sold and the proceeds from the sale of the late spouse’s/partner’s share invested, the income from that would typically also need to be used to pay toward the cost of long-term care.  Significantly though, the capital is preserved and upon the death of the surviving spouse/partner, the capital would go to the final or residuary beneficiaries named in the Will.  If no-one is named as such in the Will, the property may need to be distributed under the terms of the Administration Act 1969.

There are anti-avoidance provisions in the Social Security Act 1964 and it is important to seek professional advice before taking any action.  The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development has wide powers to set aside any disposition of property which is considered to have been entered into to ensure that a person qualifies for a benefit or subsidy to which they might not otherwise be entitled.  Timing is important, as is good legal advice.  Generally, gifts made within a five year period of application for subsidised long-term care are clawed back and there is discretion for the Chief Executive to look back further, as they see fit.

A lawyer’s cost to transfer ownership of a home from joint tenancy to a tenancy in common, including completion of Wills with appropriate life interests, may be in the order of $1,500 provided there is no mortgage involved although this is cheaper than the more complicated and expensive option of transferring a home into a discretionary trust.  Although a trust can protect the whole property, along with any other assets transferred into the trust, a life interest situation will usually ensure that at least one half of the property is protected and preserved for children or other beneficiaries.  Legal advice should always be sought before any of these types of decision are made.

Updated 1 July 2015 by Peter Orpin of Lane Neave Lawyers  - www.laneneave.co.nz

DISCLAIMER

The information provided in this list of Questions and Answers (Q&A) is of a general nature.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  The Q&A is not an alternative to legal advice and does not replace any requirements under any relevant Act, Regulations, Code of Practice, Rule, Standards or Orders.  While Eldernet and Lane Neave Lawyers have endeavoured to ensure this information is accurate and as useful as possible, to the fullest extent permitted by law neither organisation accepts any loss, liability or responsibility (whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise) resulting directly or indirectly from any action taken or reliance made by any person on the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided in this Q&A or incorporated into it by reference.

Many people put off making a Will, almost as if to do so is acknowledgement of one’s own mortality.  Consider, though, what might happen if a person dies without a current or valid Will.

If a person dies without a current or valid Will he or she is said to have died ‘intestate’ and their estate will be settled according to the provisions of the Administration Act 1969. There are consequences to having property dealt with under that Act.

If a person dies intestate their estate is divided in strict accordance with the Act, initially amongst a surviving spouse, civil union or de facto partner, children and/or immediate family.  If there are young children, any part of an intestate estate to which they might be entitled must be held in trust for them until they are 18 years old.  If a person dies without a spouse or children, his or her property is distributed between their parents, brothers and sisters and perhaps even nieces and nephews.  If the Administrator finds that there are no entitled beneficiaries (as that term is defined in the Act), the Crown takes the entire estate.

Almost inevitably the result is that a deceased’s estate is divided in a manner other than what he or she might have otherwise wished.  In addition, dying intestate will invariably mean that the process of administering an estate will be more drawn out and almost inevitably more expensive.  The Court will appoint an Administrator who is entitled to cover their costs from the estate.

If a person dies with a valid Will, he or she will have the comfort of knowing that their affairs will be administered in the manner they wished.  Once a person has a valid Will it is important that it is reviewed regularly (to make sure it is up to date) and that someone close to you knows where the original signed copy of the Will is kept.

Updated 1 July 2015 by Peter Orpin of Lane Neave Lawyers – www.laneneave.co.nz

DISCLAIMER

The information provided in this list of Questions and Answers (Q&A) is of a general nature.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  The Q&A is not an alternative to legal advice and does not replace any requirements under any relevant Act, Regulations, Code of Practice, Rule, Standards or Orders.  While Eldernet and Lane Neave Lawyers have endeavoured to ensure this information is accurate and as useful as possible, to the fullest extent permitted by law neither organisation accepts any loss, liability or responsibility (whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise) resulting directly or indirectly from any action taken or reliance made by any person on the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided in this Q&A or incorporated into it by reference.

Basically, anything provided it is legal.

As well as dealing with a person’s property, a Will can also be used to give directions about burial or cremation and the type of funeral service.  If there are young children, a guardian should be appointed in a Will to represent and protect the children’s interests, at least until they are 18 years of age.

Family arguments can be minimised by stating clearly which possessions are to go to which person.  As well as leaving specific bequests of personal belongings, many people will choose to leave monetary amounts to family or friends and, in some circumstances, to a specified organisation or charity.

If there is a child with special needs, and it would be inappropriate for him or her to receive a cash gift from an estate, it is possible to set up a testamentary trust in a Will to ensure that the child’s needs are met during their lifetime and then upon their death, the remainder of the capital and interest of the trust can be divided in accordance with the wishes stated in the Will.

People may choose to leave their surviving spouse/partner a life interest only in their share of a house property or other investments, so that they enjoy the use of the asset (or the income from it) during the remainder of their lifetime, but on the death of the surviving spouse/partner, the capital is passed in accordance with the wishes stated in the Will.

If at the time of death a person is owed money by family members or by the trustees of a trust formed by the deceased person during their lifetime, it is possible for the deceased person to forgive that debt in their Will.  Similarly, a Will can appoint new trustees of a trust that had been set up by the deceased person during their lifetime and can nominate someone to have the power of appointment of future trustees or beneficiaries of the trust.  A Will is a flexible document which, if properly structured, can relieve financial strain on a family and limit arguments between those close to the deceased person.  But, to be really useful, a Will must be reviewed regularly and, if necessary, either updated or replaced with a new Will.

Updated 1 July 2015 by Peter Orpin of Lane Neave Lawyers - www.laneneave.co.nz

DISCLAIMER

The information provided in this list of Questions and Answers (Q&A) is of a general nature.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  The Q&A is not an alternative to legal advice and does not replace any requirements under any relevant Act, Regulations, Code of Practice, Rule, Standards or Orders.  While Eldernet and Lane Neave Lawyers have endeavoured to ensure this information is accurate and as useful as possible, to the fullest extent permitted by law neither organisation accepts any loss, liability or responsibility (whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise) resulting directly or indirectly from any action taken or reliance made by any person on the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided in this Q&A or incorporated into it by reference.

A Will is a document that needs to be reviewed regularly as personal circumstances change. 

There are, however, certain events which make it absolutely essential to update a Will.  For example, a Will is automatically revoked if a person marries or enters into a civil union unless the Will was made in contemplation of that marriage or civil union.  Likewise, if a marriage or civil union is dissolved, if there are dependent children, or if property interests increase significantly (by way of an inheritance, for example), a Will should be reviewed.

Updated 1 July 2015 by Peter Orpin of Lane Neave Lawyers - www.laneneave.co.nz

DISCLAIMER

The information provided in this list of Questions and Answers (Q&A) is of a general nature.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  The Q&A is not an alternative to legal advice and does not replace any requirements under any relevant Act, Regulations, Code of Practice, Rule, Standards or Orders.  While Eldernet and Lane Neave Lawyers have endeavoured to ensure this information is accurate and as useful as possible, to the fullest extent permitted by law neither organisation accepts any loss, liability or responsibility (whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise) resulting directly or indirectly from any action taken or reliance made by any person on the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided in this Q&A or incorporated into it by reference.

Different options exist for a person to set aside funds for their funeral that will not be considered as an asset for such things as asset testing by WINZ for a benefit or eligibility for subsidised long-term care.

Many people choose to enter into a prepaid funeral arrangement with a funeral director of their choice.  Generally speaking, this will be for a set amount sufficient to cover the costs of a funeral at an agreed rate.  Those funds are then invested in a funeral trust by the funeral director and if, after the funeral has been paid for, there are funds left over, those funds could remain the property of the funeral director.  Advice should be sought before signing any such contract.

At the present time WINZ permits an amount of up to $10,000 to be set aside in a prepaid funeral trust, and for that sum not to be included as an asset of the person to whose credit the money is held.  This is a declaration of trust where an amount of up to $10,000 is placed in the name of the trustee(s), to hold the same for the express purpose of paying for a named person’s funeral.  These funds may be invested in an investment chosen by the trustee(s).  Under new income testing rules for residential care subsidies the income from the funeral trust is counted as income available to pay for long-term care.  Following death and a funeral, the funds are used to pay the funeral account.  Any balance will form part of the deceased person’s estate and will be distributed according to the terms of the person’s Will.

In determining eligibility for subsidised long-term care the amount set aside in a Funeral Trust will not be included in a person’s assets provided the amount does not exceed $10,000.

Updated 1 July 2015 by Peter Orpin of Lane Neave Lawyers - www.laneneave.co.nz

DISCLAIMER

The information provided in this list of Questions and Answers (Q&A) is of a general nature.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  The Q&A is not an alternative to legal advice and does not replace any requirements under any relevant Act, Regulations, Code of Practice, Rule, Standards or Orders.  While Eldernet and Lane Neave Lawyers have endeavoured to ensure this information is accurate and as useful as possible, to the fullest extent permitted by law neither organisation accepts any loss, liability or responsibility (whether in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise) resulting directly or indirectly from any action taken or reliance made by any person on the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided in this Q&A or incorporated into it by reference.

The Trusts Act 2019 makes significant changes to previous trust law. See Ministry of Justice information

The Trusts Act 2019 makes significant changes to previous trust law. See Ministry of Justice information

The Sorted web site HERE has information about Equity Release.  They also provide booklets HERE.

Updated 18/06/2015