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Assisting Kawerau's Elderly
25 September 2017
Assisting Kawerau's Elderly

AS we age, we find ourselves not being able to do the things we used to – whether it be taking rubbish to the kerb, driving to the shop or appointments or carrying in the groceries.

A Kawerau organisation, the first of its kind in New Zealand, has addressed a gap in the social service realm – assisting the aging population who choose to stay in their own home with everyday tasks.

For many people, a retirement home is not their preference, so Kawerau and Districts Aging in Place Incorporated (KADAP) is the community’s way of meeting the needs of older residents who want to remain in their homes.

For $1 a week, KADAP membership offers access to services and facilities, with assurance that specially-vetted volunteers may be available to help with tasks that a member can no longer do.

KADAP was officially launched in November 2015, with a mission to lend a helping hand to ensure its elderly members keep their independence for as long as they choose.

Co-ordinator Gary Hinton says a third of the Kawerau population are senior citizens. Of the 8700 residents in the district, around 2000 are aged 65 and over.

In 2012, Kawerau Enterprise Agency executive director Helen Stewart and a few others realised there was a gap in social services available to residents. Gary says among the wealth of services readily available at Kawerau, there was nothing that accommodated or funded assistance for the elderly still independent in their own homes.

Helen and the other visionaries held a meeting in the Kawerau Town Hall to identify the need for the organisation – 200 residents attended, proving its interest. In 2015, KADAP was registered as a not-for-profit organisation, officially launched and began recruiting members and volunteers.

Currently, it has 138 members and 28 volunteers. When volunteers express their interest to help, they identify what they are good at or how they can help.

“Our volunteers have a wealth of knowledge and experience,” Gary says. “Volunteers are also police-vetted so members know that whoever we send around, they don’t have to have any doubts or worries.”

He believes volunteering is a lost art. “People volunteer their time and the skills they have accumulated in their life. They don’t expect payment but a volunteer should never be out of pocket financially.”

It isn’t often a volunteer leaves with nothing, he says. “The elderly folk have been brought up in a way to give, like a koha system.”

Members’ enquiries can range from walking their dog, transport or simply needing a companion to have a cup of tea with. On average, the organisation receives nine requests daily. On busy days, the request may reach 20.

Gary says KADAP endeavours to work collaboratively with other agencies in Kawerau, by recommending services to their members and organising contracts.

KADAP also works in partnership with some Kawerau agencies that offer discounts to its members.

KADAP’s will host its first annual meeting on Wednesday, September 27 at 1pm at the Life Konnect Centre, 371 River Road, Kawerau. Gary says anybody is welcome to attend.

Source: Whakatane Beacon

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