Plea for better services

WHEN Bob and Shirley Stevenson sought help for their situation, a combination of ill health and age, they were shocked to find they had to join a long waiting list.

The North Nowra couple sought assistance from the Aged Care Assessment Team and the more they looked into the system the worse things appeared.

Both were shocked to discover many other people in similar situations languish on waiting lists.

Mrs Stevenson, who has various health issues, was assessed in last July and recommended for an EACH (Extended Aged Care at Home) package, plus nine weeks’ respite per year.

Her name was sent to five agencies which provide EACH packages.

“I soon found out there were about 300 people on waiting lists in the Shoalhaven for EACH packages,” Mrs Stevenson said.

“I contacted a couple of the agencies myself and was informed there were long waiting lists.

“During the last eight months I have been contacted by one agency, to see if I still wanted to be on their waiting list and I said, ‘Yes’.

“This was a few months ago.”

She also picked up a booklet called Home and Community Care Services in the Shoalhaven.

She thought an agency in the booklet could help her.

“Every person I contacted told me at the moment they did not have the funding,” Mrs Stevenson said.

Mrs Stevenson contacted Community Options Illawarra and while it also had funding issues it offered short-term help.

Home Care Services NSW also helped Mrs Stevenson.

“I am thankful for the help I have received from Community Options and Home Care Services NSW,” she said.

Mrs Stevenson wanted the federal and state governments to work together and solve the situation.

“It’s just not OK for some people to be waiting up to two years after being assessed before they get help,” she said.

Mrs Stevenson dictated a letter to her husband, which explained their plight.

A copy of the letter was given to Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis, who contacted the couple. 

Mrs Sudmalis sent Mrs Stevenson’s letter to the office of federal Health Minister Peter Dutton.

Within days the process started to move forward.

Mrs Sudmalis said normally things didn’t move so quickly but given the circumstance it was obvious something needed to be done immediately.

She said three parts of the Stevensons’ woes had been solved with one more solution pending.

The situation recently hit the North Nowra couple hard when Mr Stevenson could not even prepare a meal for his wife and had to call on a neighbour for help.

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