I am keen to touch base with all our members to check you are okay and to let you know some of the things IHC is doing to support people with intellectual disability, families and staff through the COVID-19 emergency. It is a difficult time for us all as we try to keep our lives ticking over and keep well. For some of you this will be more challenging than for others.
Services has been recognised as an Essential Service by the Government and managers and staff have done an amazing job to keep services going and to ensure people are safe and secure in their homes. Our day bases have all closed and the challenge has been to ensure those who now have to stay at home have things to do. My son is in an IDEA Services home and we know he continues to be well cared for. Our staff, many of whom have their own families have been simply incredible.
We have put out a request to all IHC Associations to ask them to contribute $10,000 to an emergency fund so that we can respond to the needs of the people in our homes. One of the things we will be looking at is getting devices into the homes or using existing ones to ensure people and their families can connect. Families have told us how anxious they are about not being able to see and talk to their family member. We have also asked Associations to check in with members in their area for a chat and to see if there is any way they can help.
IHC Emergency Appeal
We have also put out a request to the public and launched an IHC Emergency Appeal. We know that there are people living alone and families at home who are vulnerable and struggling financially and emotionally. We are facing unprecedented demands and need to call on the generosity of New Zealanders to help us meet those demands. You can check out IHC’s Emergency Response page here.
Awhi at Home
We know all parents who have their children home will be experiencing some difficulties. We also know that parents with disabled children are likely to have particular challenges. This is why we have launched Awhi at Home. This is a Facebook site designed to support families with disabled children. We will be posting tips, referring parents to one-one support, showing interesting videos and holding question and answer sessions with a range of experts including families themselves. Go to the Facebook page.
In conjunction with Carers NZ we have launched Wecare.Kiwi which will link anyone living alone or caring for others with the help they need. This is a response to the emergency, and it is for all people. You just have to register, and you will be linked through IHC’s volunteer team to the help available in your community. You can register on the website or phone 0800 777 797 or email email@example.com.
Throughout all this we have not abandoned our important advocacy role. We will be monitoring the requests we get for help and ensuring that the needs of people with intellectual disability and their families are not lost in the drama that is unfolding. The IHC Advocacy team are particularly concerned about the vulnerability of people living alone with only a few hours of support. Already we are finding many are struggling to access the funds to shop.
As an essential service, Accessible Properties is continuing to provide services and support to our homes and properties being used by IHC, IDEA Services and Choices NZ.
They have put in place a response framework aligned to the Government’s Alert levels, and essential maintenance processes and protocols are in place, as are essential tenancy processes.
They are focusing on four main areas:
- Keeping ourselves, our families and each other safe.
- Keeping our homes safe and inhabitable for the people we serve – tenants, residents and IDEA Services front line staff.
- Keeping in contact with our tenants and ensure support is in place.
- Maintaining income - without this we can’t deliver our services and keep people employed.
Accessible Properties are prioritising the delivery of the above four areas to keep the essential parts of our services operating and keeping in contact with tenants and contractors regularly.
In line with MBIE guidance they have defined essential maintenance work to keep our homes safe and inhabitable as emergency and health and safety related repairs work:
- Urgent repairs that affect immediate health of occupants – eg; electrical faults, water leaks, sanitary services, access and security, fire systems, heating, failure of essential services and blocked egress routes.
- Loss of services – eg; provision of water supply or sewage systems.
- Weather event related repairs – eg; work related to weather events such as flooding.
- They have been in contact with their maintenance contractors to let them know the services provided by IDEA Services and Accessible Properties are Essential Services; and that by extension any repair or other works required of them to keep our homes operational and safe are also deemed an essential service.
So, you can see the team has not stood still and have worked tirelessly to ensure that people and staff get the help and support they need to make the best of these extraordinary times. The IHC Board have extended their thanks to all those involved. I am immensely proud to be associated with an organisation that does not hesitate to step up and do what is right. I hope you and your families stay well and I will, no doubt, be in touch again.
If anyone has any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (04) 471 6569.
Chair, IHC Member Council
IHC Board Member