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Quality health care in New Zealand - Anderton Spch

28 September 2000 Speech Notes

Embargoed until: 4:30PM Thursday, 28 September 2000


Quality health care in New Zealand


Presentation of Quality Health Accreditation Awards Whareama Rest Home,

81 Neale Ave, Stoke


I would like to congratulate Whareama Home and Hospital on its achievement in earning recognition for the quality care, service and safety it provides to residents and patients.

The extent to which we rely on providers such as this is not often acknowledged.

Over the last two decades or so public hospitals have increasingly withdrawn from providing long-term geriatric care.

Homes and hospitals such as Whareama have picked up the role.

It is common for MPs to come into contact with distressing cases of very ill people who have been discharged from hospital with nowhere to go. Often their families are left to pick up the pieces. Often homes have taken these people in, with the assistance of voluntary organisations such as churches – and I know Whareama has a record of that.

This government is committed to improving the quality of care for senior citizens.

It's a very significant public policy issue.

More than a third of total public health expenditure goes to services for the treatment and health care of people over 65. Add to this the fact that people are living longer. The proportion of people over 65 in the population will double in the next 40 years.

An ageing population does not inevitably mean a more disabled or less healthy population. However, lack of action can cause it to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For the Government this means we need to put a greater emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention for everyone, and to prolong health and independence in older people for as long as possible.

I could mention the Zone diet here.

Today, many older people are living healthy, vibrant, fulfilled lives.

There is a new emphasis on positive ageing that encourages the ongoing contribution of older New Zealanders to our communities, and honours their wealth of experience and knowledge.

But in addition the Government is determined to get the framework right for the care and support of older New Zealanders.

My colleague the Minister for Disability Issues Ruth Dyson has announced that she is overhauling the way health and disability services for older people are currently funded and delivered.

There have been ten reports on this issue in the last five years. The problem has been a policy vacuum in the health care of older people. There has been nobody in the Ministry of Health for a decade to coordinate older people's health. This government is changing that and a new specialist directorate has been established within the restructured Ministry.

All Governments have to balance resources to meet a wide range of needs and responsibilities.

However, in recent times, there has been an over-emphasis on competition and cost saving at the expense of the public good.

The competitive model of health care embraced by the previous administration simply didn't work for the most vulnerable members of society – including older people.

Nor did it work for the people who cared for them. Whareama itself has had its share of problems with the government in trying to get a fair deal for its role in caring for its patients and residents.

The Government is now shifting the scales back to a more humane balance.

In the budget this year and extra $40 million over four years was allocated to disability support services.

Significant numbers of older New Zealanders live in rest homes or hospitals – something like a quarter of over-85 year olds.

These people are among the most vulnerable of all our citizens, and we have a special responsibility to ensure the quality of their care.

Before the end of this year, the Government expects to pass a new Health and Disability (Safety) Bill.

It will replace the present outdated licensing arrangements for hospitals and homes with a new framework for ensuring services are provided safely.

The standards were produced after public consultation.

They include requirements regarding adherence to consumer rights, and specific minimum requirements relating to management and staffing and service delivery.

We are here today to acknowledge the achievement of Whareama in reaching the high standards of the Quality Health New Zealand framework. It has exceeded the standards that the Government is legislating for in the new Bill.

The Quality Health New Zealand framework complements the new regime.

The Government has other important matters in its sights including removal of asset testing for long-stay residential care.

Before the end of this Government's first term we will introduce legislation to abolish asset testing.

That will be a significant advance for many New Zealand families.

The Government's vision for quality health care in the future is part of an overall approach to develop comprehensive strategies in health, disability and positive ageing.

The achievement of this organisation in achieving Accreditation shows it too is committed to rising standards of care for aging New Zealanders.

I congratulate you on that.


ENDS

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