Family members caring for elderly Pasifika at end of life not getting help - study

Most Pacific Islanders in New Zealand spend the end of their lives being cared for by family members who aren't getting all the help they're entitled to, a new study has revealed.

Family members looking after elderly Pasifika at the end of their lives aren’t getting the help they need. Source: 1 NEWS / Aotearoa Science Agency

The study which outlines the challenges facing those who give up their own lives to care for their loved ones.

Reverend Suamalie Naisali, who cared for his dying wife, said: "She said to me, 'I would like to be at home. It is a better place where there is peace, where there is love'." 

It was the right decision but it wasn't easy, as family members gave up study and jobs to provide 24-7 care.

While they had a lot of community support, Reverend Naisali says the Government needs to provide financial help for those who don't.

"If they give up their job they can't even support the children to go to school," he said.

The study author, Dr Ofa Dewes, says the tasks caregivers perform at home caring for an older loved one are relentless.

That's why the Ageing Well National Science Challenge has spearheaded the study of 33 Pasifika families who've been through it.

It's hoped the research will help form government policy as it showed how most Pasifika prefer to spend their last days - at home with their family.

A group of elders who meet every week as part of the Treasuring Older Adults programme know what they want, but are reluctant to put extra pressure on their families.

The study shows most of those families don't know what help is available to them. 

One recommendation is that family members who are voluntary caregivers for dying loved ones could later fill gaps in the aged care workforce.

"They've learnt the skills and coping with all the different responsibilities that a caregiver provides at end of life. And this is a resource that is yet untapped," Dr Dewes said.

Malia Hamani of Treasuring Older Adults says she believes government can include carers in the funding it allows for older persons and those at end of life.

Some footage in the above video was kindly supplied to 1 NEWS by the Aotearoa Science Agency.