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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Support for families of rest-home refugees

Support for families of rest-home refugees

Last updated 05:00 25/04/2011
Family of elderly quake refugees can now get funding to visit their loved ones.

More than 500 Christchurch rest home residents have been relocated since the quake, including 300 transferred out of the region.

Seven Christchurch homes were totally and two partially evacuated.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) has introduced financial support for families to visit their elderly relatives.

The board will pay for one person to visit once a week.

Christchurch woman Jannice Rogers said she was phoned on the Thursday after the quake and told her hospital-bound mother, Marjorie Frisken, was being moved out of Churchill Courts rest home the following day. The 79-year-old had never been on a plane and was scared of flying, but could not be transferred to Dunedin by road.

Rogers said her mother took three days' worth of clothes with her and the rest of her belongings were hastily collected from her room.

She arrived at her new home in Dunedin about midnight. Rogers has visited her twice.

"It's nice to know mum's safe and she's not here having to go through the shocks because she hates earthquakes to bits," she said.

"But when I went down a couple of weeks ago I saw her on Sunday and she had had a couple of seizures through the night, which meant she slept for a long time after that.

"That left me feeling really angry. I thought, `I shouldn't have to travel five hours to find that something's happened."'

Rogers appreciated the health board support but hoped it could be flexible to fit with different family needs.

Frisken's husband Brian lives in Bexley and used to visit his wife every day. Since the quake, the 74-year-old has been to Dunedin three times, all funded by the health board.

"It's difficult because I used to go every day, now it's only once a week. I appreciate them getting me down there, otherwise I would have to drive. But I would like to see her back here," he said.

"The health board assures me they will try get her back as soon as they can, but it will be a long drawn-out process I think."

The CDHB said 80 family members had been assisted to travel to see relatives so far at a cost of more than $30,000.

If their relative had been moved more than 350km away the board would pay either 28c a kilometre for someone to visit by car or the cost of plane tickets and a taxi to the airport and back.

If the visitor was frail and needed support to travel, it would pay for a support person as well.

If the travel was more than 100km one way, the CDHB would pay up to $100 for accommodation for one night or $25 per night if staying with friends or relatives.
If the travel was less than 100km one way, it would pay 28c per kilometre.

- The Press

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