Doctors in the region can now prescribe home insulation for at-risk patients living in cold houses.
Sixty-one referrals to the Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme have already been made by doctors across the Tararua, Horowhenua, Palmerston North and Manawatu districts.
The state-funded insulation programme, launched in May, targets low income and at-risk households. It follows the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme that ran from 2009-2013.
MidCentral Health’s manager of public health, Robert Holdaway, said practices received “prescription for insulation” referral pads several weeks ago.
“The referral system works by the GP or practice nurse filling in the application form,” he said.
“This is then sent to EnergySmart, which sends a staff member to the property for assessment, and to ensure that the owners or occupiers meet the criteria.”
Data from Friday last week showed there had been six referrals from Tararua, 22 from Palmerston North, 29 from Horowhenua and four from Manawatu. “GPs are involved because of the health criteria – those eligible must have a pre-existing health condition or be at a particular risk of developing such a condition.
“GPs are an obvious referral point as they have contact with patients who fulfil these criteria.
“By insulating homes it is expected that we will see a gradual reduction in health issues relating to living in a cold damp house.”
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, which administers the programme, is working with the health sector to ensure the people who will benefit the most get access to free insulation. Its residential general manager, Robert Linterman, said funding was available to insulate about 850 homes in the Manawatu, Horowhenua and Tararua before the end of June 2014.
“In some cases, high-needs patients may not have a Community Services Card and the health sector is in a very good position to assess need,” he said. “Households with children under 17 or people over 65 are prioritised.
“Homeowners and tenants are eligible, although landlords will be expected to make a small contribution to the cost of insulating their rentals.”
– © Fairfax NZ News