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Health of Older People a Key Priority For MoH

Media Release
4 April, 2006

Health of Older People a Key Priority for the Ministry of Health

The wheels are in motion for a comprehensive information system which will improve information and services for older people and ensure their changing needs are met.

The Ministry of Health has released Health of Older People Information Strategic Plan: Directions to 2010 and Beyond which sets out the steps needed for an information infrastructure to support District Health Boards (DHBs) to fully implement the Health of Older People Strategy as required, by 2010.

A joint Ministry of Health - DHB steering group will oversee implementation of the Plan, which was developed in consultation with DHBs and service providers. Judy Glackin, from the Ministry of Health, and Sue Peacock from Hawkes Bay District Health Board are joint sponsors of this work.

The plan identifies the information infrastructure, systems and services needed to keep pace with the needs of the rapidly ageing population.

This includes planning, delivering and monitoring health and disability support programmes for older people as a population group.

Judy Glackin says "The New Zealand population is ageing and this is placing increasing demands on health and disability support services. This Plan is a major part of our preparation to meet the challenges of the future."

Currently, 12.5 percent of the population is aged over 65 years. This is expected to increase to 13 percent by 2010, to 22 percent by 2031 and to 25 percent by 2051.

"This plan sets out the work that needs to be done to enable more effective and efficient decision-making around the services we need for older people in the future," Judy Glackin says. " Currently we have fragmented information on how older people use health and disability support services and work is now underway to address these limitations and gaps."

The Ministry and DHBs are in the process of identifying problems in existing information systems and working towards solutions.

Work is underway on the development of a national health of older people information system, which would provide information for service planning and delivery, as well as health status monitoring and reporting.

As well a new standardised assessment tool, recommended by the New Zealand Guidelines Group, is now being trialed in five DHB regions. These trials, using the InterRAI MDS-HC, are being evaluated by Auckland University, with preliminary results expected at the end of the year. If successful, it may be adopted as a national system.

The plan also provides for the development of a database for relevant research and survey data, which will be collated and used as part of future service planning.

Sue Peacock says "It is really important to have good quality information in order to make future planning and funding decisions. This information plan is a positive move by DHBs and the Ministry to work together to develop more comprehensive systems that will better support older people."

ENDS

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