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It’s a good start but only a start

It’s a good start but only a start

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) has been pleased to support the Aged Residential Care Service Review. “We applaud the initiative taken by the DHBs and the aged residential care providers to spotlight the huge increase in demand for aged residential care going forward”, says Trevor McGlinchey, NZCCSS Executive Officer. “The numbers are mind boggling. We agree with the Minister, the baby boomers will not be provided for unless we act.”

According to the report, New Zealand will need between 16,500 and 27,500 additional aged residential care beds over the next 15 years. If the optimum sized facility is 80 beds, then the requirement is for between 150 and 250 new facilities.

What the report doesn’t address is how the more vulnerable and lower income elderly will manage old age. The report doesn’t pay specific attention to home care which is essential to enable the elderly to remain living independently. A similar exercise needs to be done to determine the home health care needs of the elderly over the next 10-15 years with consideration of support needs across the continuum of care and support needs. It is all very well to have enough residential care beds, it quite another to have services to support those elderly who are able to live relatively independently. We welcome the recognition in the report of the need to invest in special purpose low income housing for older people. Investment in this area would open up new alternatives and choices for older people with few resources.

Today the majority of elderly in aged residential care receive Government subsidies towards the costs of their care. This will need to continue in the future. Only a small percentage will be able to fund their own care. Government must come to the party. We must have a financial model which sends a clear message out to providers - build more facilities and develop more services for the baby boomer generation. The Council is pleased with the third recommendation which identifies that the challenge begins in earnest in 2014.

Special attention must be given to older people with dementia. The report acknowledges that dementia has the highest rate of demand but an unsustainable rate of return. While day programmes and home support and respite services can help, those with advanced dementia will also need to be accommodated in rest homes and hospitals. This is the one of the greatest challenges.

It will be a real challenge to prepare for a 50-75% increase in the aged care workforce. Investment in development of aged residential care has the potential to provide good stable employment for 15,000 – 20,000 New Zealanders.


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