Book launch - Living and Caring: A Guide for Carers and People living with Parkinson’s

Fa’atalofa atu, malo e lelei, Kia ora koutou katoa

I am pleased to be here today to celebrate the launch of the book ‘Living and Caring: A Guide for Carers and People Living with Parkinson’s’ and to recognise people living with Parkinson’s, their family and whanau and the importance of carers.

I want to start by acknowledging one of the co-authors of the book, Ann Andrews, who passed away before the book was published. She has made a valuable impact on this community and left behind a lasting legacy. As Jennifer Dann says in her introduction to the book, “Ann’s vision was to investigate not just the practical aspects of caring but also how people felt about it and how it affected their relationships.” I understand her family is here today and I am glad to have you here to celebrate her work.

I also want to welcome the other co-author of the book- Jennifer Dann, and acknowledge all that she has achieved.

Thank you George for your efforts and enthusiasm in making this event a success, and for providing me with a copy of the book. I also want to acknowledge Parkinson’s New Zealand, and their CE Deidre O’Sullivan, and the Carers Alliance. Also welcome to the former (and current?)  Ministers and MPS here today, Paul Spoonley, who I look forward to hearing from later, and John Armstrong.

And most importantly to all the carers who are here and the people with Parkinson’s and their family and friends.

It is a privilege to celebrate World Parkinson’s Day today on the 11th of April 2019 with the Living and Caring book launch event here at Parliament.

World Parkinson’s Day is held every year to increase public awareness, and to promote work undertaken by organisations dedicated to addressing Parkinson’s, like Parkinsons New Zealand.

Around 1 in 500 people in New Zealand live with Parkinson’s. It is more prevalent amongst older people and is the second most common age-related nerve degenerating disease. We know that it is a life altering condition, and that it has huge impacts for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s as well as their loved ones.

The book by Ann Andrews and Jennifer Dann shares the experiences of over 40 people with Parkinson’s and their family carers. It offers insights into their lives and practical information for those in a similar situation. Through the stories in the book we get to read the feelings, struggles and triumphs that people living with Parkinson’s experience.

It is wonderful to see a book that provides insights into the experiences of both the carers and the cared for. Carers are often family members who do not identify with the term. As Ann Andrews says in the book, “they feel that caring is just part of what they do as a loving husband, wife or family member.”

The stories in the book help shine a light on the people in our lives who undertake caring roles and responsibilities. Carers help other people to live and participate in their community. It is important to acknowledge the time, effort and care that goes into supporting a friend, family or whānau member who needs help with their everyday living due to an illness, injury, health condition or disability.

This Government recognises and values the work that carers do. We are committed to supporting people in caring roles, whether that is informally or formally.  We are currently working with the Carers Alliance as we develop a new five-year Carers’ Strategy Action Plan that better supports carers to undertake their caring role and ensure it is sustainable. The Carers Alliance brings valuable insights, knowledge and perspectives that will ensure the Action Plan is meaningful, addresses the key priorities for carers, and better supports carers to continue their work.   

We will be seeking input this year on a proposed action plan and I hope many of you here will contribute to this.

I want to again thank all of you for being here today to launch this valuable book, and to celebrate those we know who are living with Parkinson’s and those who provide care and support.