South Auckland palliative care provider facing funding crisis after hospice shops closed until alert level 2

Sick Aucklanders who are unable to see family and friends because of lockdown restrictions need support more than ever.

But while Totara Hospice is meeting their needs its funds have been significantly cut back.

The south Auckland based palliative care provider can't operate its hospice shops - a major source of income - until alert level 2.

Tala and Genevieve Simati are coming up eight years married. In this stage of their life together the Auckland couple is facing a new challenge.

Fifty-one-year-old Tala has diabetes, heart failure and kidney failure - he's using dialysis and needs the assistance of a wheelchair. And for several months he's been receiving hospice care from home.

"That's what I'm fighting with or my wife and I are fighting with together," he says.

At times it's been overwhelming.

"We've sat on the bed totally frustrated and just crying, crying on the bed and like no hope."

Auckland's Totara Hospice has been a source of support, especially with COVID restrictions now stopping friends and family from visiting.

"Yeah they're family. If anyone from hospice comes, definitely the teapot's going on, toasted sandwiches are gonna happen, or there's gonna be a meal," Genevieve says.

"That's not going to be compromised by any COVID levels, but that does mean that as a team we have to work a lot harder, and get a bit more creative," says Totara Hospice manager cultural and social support Marleen Tuigamala.

That's because while the workload is the same - and more crucial Totara Hospice's resource is cut drastically because the charity can't operate its six hospice shops.

Government funding makes up 60 percent of operating costs but the hospice has to raise the rest.

"We have to make about $400,000 in any one month as a minimum, and the shops would contribute about $230,000 to that," Totara Hospice CEO Tina McAfferty says.

McAfferty says it's time to look at the government fully funding hospice care.

"The best thing you could ever do for someone that's ill is to connect and touch, it's just that touch, that connection, that will make a world of difference to someone's life," Tala says.

And while Aucklanders can't see their families, it's the hospice making those crucial connections. 

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