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“Students in flats are better protected than our most vulnerable members of society”.
That from former Christchurch city councillor Ali Jones, who has launched a petition asking Parliament to look at legislation that currently doesn’t protect elderly people in rest homes from being kicked out.
“Don’t get me wrong, students need protection too but when you have one of the most vulnerable groups in society with virtually no security of tenure, then something’s wrong,” she says.
Jones started the petition after reports of a significant number of Merivale Retirement Village rest home residents, receiving letters giving them a month’s notice that they need to find new accommodation or pay additional to secure a place in a new facility being built by the current providers.
“This isn’t about the Merivale Retirement Village situation per se; this is about a law for a group of particularly vulnerable New Zealanders. I understand that there is nothing in legislation that protects residents of rest homes; they can be evicted as per their contract, which is usually within 21-28 days. They aren’t covered by the Residential Tenancies Act and as most of the contracts with aged care providers are the same, they have no choice but to sign them despite the terrible eviction clauses. Of course I am sure they are told their loved ones will never be kicked out but as we know, that can and does happen.”
Ali Jones says she started the petition as she knows someone affected by the Merivale Retirement Village situation, the Village is in her neighbourhood and, “we will all be old one day”.
“There must be a legislative response. There’s already a regulatory relationship between the providers of the care and the residents in that the DHBs and WINZ significantly fund the sector. There are Levels of Service that must be met to satisfy funding agreements and surely the wellbeing of our elderly must be a part of those Levels of Service. Kicking vulnerable elderly out of somewhere they undoubtedly expected to spend the rest of their lives will not help their health and wellbeing one iota,” she says. “This must be acknowledged in a law change.”
The petition went live on the Parliamentary website on the 27th February and closes in early May.