13 Feb 2020

Cost of healthy diet and healthcare a barrier for disadvantaged people

12:07 pm on 13 February 2020

Disadvantaged residents in Glen Innes are voicing their struggles in accessing lifesaving healthcare, healthy food, and employment.

The man's GP believed he was getting counselling for his depression.

Photo: 123RF

Sixty residents, including beneficiaries, carers, and homeless people, were interviewed as part of a Massey University study in 2018 and 2019.

More than half reported being unemployed or unable to work because they look after children or due to a disability.

The cost of prescriptions, doctor consultations and transport posed problems in accessing healthcare, the participants said.

One said he knew of someone who died from an asthma attack because they could not afford an inhaler.

Another said: "Who the hell wants to go and pay $5... that can buy a bread and a milk... what are you going to do when you have none of those?"

Healthcare providers also did not take into consideration the struggles that prohibited people from making better choices, the study said.

"The only option is the cheaper diet, which is takeaways and all that... Mum she has diabetes.... [health practitioners] are like 'oh if you just change your diet and exercise more'... they make it seem easy," one interviewee said.

"But for the ones who can't really afford good healthy food, [they] will just remain sick."

Another said: "The oily food was the cheapest to get. It's sad but it's the truth. We can't get a chicken breast and feed everybody. What's that? One person at least."

Some of the younger residents said they were having to rely on charities for meals or did not have enough food.

Poor health had also affected their ability to find employment, the study stated.

Just four of the residents said they were in full-time jobs while most reported being on the benefit.

Lack of experience and education and the need for a driver's licence were also barriers to gaining employment.

Housing was one of the key challenges, with most saying they were in state housing and some in emergency accommodation, homeless, or living in vans.

None of the people interviewed in the study lived in new housing.

While the residents said they were thankful for state housing, they were vocal about seeing more homelessness in the area.

The study, carried out by the university's Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation , was released today.

As part of an ongoing project after the study, the 'Poverty is Not Our Future' campaign is being launched today in the east Auckland suburb.