28 November 2022

Message from Jo

Kia ora,

In this issue we are shining a spotlight on some of our amazing volunteers. Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO) is supported by the generous efforts of over 540 volunteers and many of our services simply could not run without their contribution. Our services – including our care homes, foodbank and skillsbank - help weave a stronger social fabric throughout our communities – and that means safer, kinder, stronger neighbourhoods for us all.

We are immensely grateful too, for those people in our community who show their support for PSO in other ways such as donations, gifts and in their wills. This kind of support means PSO can itself stay strong and can keep delivering help and care to those who need it most.

However, it won’t surprise you to hear that there’s more demand than ever for our social services as many Kiwis continue to feel the cost-of-living crisis.

The aged residential care sector is under significant pressure too, which is impacting all our services. Due to government underfunding in aged care, and the rising costs of providing that care, PSO has less available surplus income to support its Family Works social services.

We have had to make some difficult decisions in the face of these problems, including closing the retail arm of our YouthGrow Garden Centre in Dunedin. The YouthGrow youth development programme is not affected by this closure and will keep operating from the same site.

Our Enliven care homes also face the ongoing effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, which includes a worldwide shortage of nurses. In addition, many nurses in aged care are paid significantly less than hospital-based nurses, due to the way the government underfunds aged care. We continue our important advocacy for pay parity for our nurses.

The staffing crisis means we had to take the very difficult decision recently to close the Dementia Unit at Ross Home as we were unable to staff the unit safely. We are working closely with the affected residents, their families and Te Whatu Ora Southern to ensure a smooth transition to a new home for each of these residents. We really hope we can offer this important level of care in future, but in the present climate this is impossible right now.

Despite these challenges though, there are still reasons for hope! The heart our volunteers and staff have for PSO’s mission is huge and we are working on strategies to navigate these turbulent times. The coming generations give me hope too. We were honoured to host Sione Lea, Deputy Head Boy at Waitaki Boys and a graduate of our Buddy programme, as special guest speaker at our recent AGM. Sione was featured in the Winter edition of People and is off to Otago University to study Health Sciences First Year in 2023 and plans to become a surgeon. His message of resilience, humility and growth resonated with all of us.

Blessings to you all,

Joanne O’Neill (Formerly Rowe)
CEO Presbyterian Support Otago


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