Media state Dr Jonathan Coleman, Ministry of Health
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says thousands more vulnerable families living in unhealthy homes will get the help they need from next month’s expansion of the Healthy Homes Initiatives.
“$18 million is being invested as part of Vote Health in Budget 2016 to expand Healthy Homes Initiatives to reduce preventable illnesses among at risk low income families with newborns to five year olds,” says Dr Coleman.
“Around 25,000 low income vulnerable families who live in unhealthy, damp, cold conditions are expected to benefit from the expanded Healthy Homes Initiatives over the next four years.
“Helping families to live in warm, dry homes will reduce their exposure to preventable illness and contribute to improved health.
“This is important for the whole family, but particularly for children, who are susceptible to illness. If you’re not sick, you’re better placed to make the most of education and employment opportunities too.”
To date, around 3,900 eligible families with children at risk of rheumatic fever in high risk North Island regions have been referred to Healthy Homes Initiatives.
These families have benefited from a range of interventions to improve their home environment and reduce crowding which has helped to minimise the spread of strep throat germs that can cause rheumatic fever.
In December 2013, the first Healthy Homes Initiatives began working with families in Auckland.
This was expanded to seven other high risk DHB areas in March 2015 – Northland, Waikato, Wellington, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti.
As a result, 3,900 families have received over 3,600 interventions – including help with insulation, curtains, beds, bedding, minor repairs, floor coverings, ventilation, heating sources, full and correct entitlement assessments through Work and Income, support with power bills, private or community relocation and social housing relocations.
Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372
Notes to editor:
Healthy Homes Initiatives – Fewer doctor visits for Far North family
A Far North family with three children reports a dramatic improvement in health and wellbeing after help from the Northland Manawa Ora Healthy Homes Initiative.
The single-parent family was living in a cold, damp private rental house, sleeping together on foam mattresses in the lounge when they were referred to Manawa Ora. They were using the oven as the heating source, and the children were often sick.
Manawa Ora helped with insulation and provided bunk beds. The children now have their own beds, and their mother reported “they have good night sleeps and their overall wellness has dramatically improved, with fewer visits to the GP.”
Hawke’s Bay family helped with re-housing
A seven-member family renting a private home in Hawke’s Bay were re-housed after their home was assessed as unsuitable, unsafe and unhealthy.
The Hawke’s Bay DHB Healthy Homes Initiative found the family, two adults and five children, were living in crowded, cold and damp conditions. The home had exposed electrical wiring, windows unable to be closed properly, mould and rot, a leaking roof and hot water cylinder, an unsealed fireplace contributing to draughts and an unflued gas heater as the only source of heating.
The Healthy Homes Initiative advocated on behalf of the family to agencies and local groups. Less than a week after the family’s housing assessment and plan had been completed, the family was offered an appropriately-sized Housing New Zealand home, and they moved in several days later.
Auckland family helped to move into private rental
A family of four sharing one bedroom in a relative’s home were able to move into a private rental after help from the Auckland-wide Healthy Homes Initiative.
The family was referred by Starship Children’s Hospital after one of their children, a nine-year-old boy, was diagnosed with rheumatic fever. The housing assessment revealed the family, which had recently moved from the Cook Islands, was boarding in a relative’s house, sleeping in one bedroom.
The family was referred to MSD to discuss possible financial assistance which resulted in the family getting a child disability allowance and an accommodation supplement, enabling them to move into a private rental home.