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Waikato DHB Older Persons and Rehabilitation Building

Jo Goodhew

21 June, 2013

Opening of Waikato DHB Older Persons and Rehabilitation Building

Delivered on behalf by Hon Todd McClay, Associate Minister of Health.

E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa. Ka nui te honore ki te mihi ki a koutou

Good afternoon everyone. Thank you, Jan [Adams], for your kind introduction. It gives me great pleasure to be in Hamilton today at the opening of the new Older Persons and Rehabilitation building.

I would like to acknowledge the previous speakers, Sally Christie and Ian Wolstencroft, and everyone who has played a part in the planning and construction of this fantastic new building. I am sure all the staff are looking forward to settling into their new building and making the most of the new facilities and services that are now available to the people of Waikato.

As you all know, New Zealand’s population is ageing and our older people are living longer and healthier lives. While this should be celebrated, it also poses challenges for the Government, health professionals, policy makers, communities, older people, and families and whānau. This is because for some, their longer lives are complicated by long-term conditions or the need for rehabilitation or other treatments.

The Government is committed to providing better, sooner, more convenient health care to improve the health of all New Zealanders, including older people. As part of this commitment we want older people to be able to live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as they are able to do so.

The redevelopment and redesign of your Older People and Rehabilitation service here at Waikato District Health Board is a crucial step in meeting this goal. Waikato is already a great example for the rest of New Zealand through your use of the START programme to help older people with rehabilitation in their own homes and to make sure they can continue with their daily lives as easily as possible.

By providing an integrated older persons and rehabilitation service, which combines a variety of services in one location, you are creating a seamless journey for the person by ensuring health professionals can work together to achieve the best possible outcomes.

By assessing and treating the medical and rehabilitative needs of older people in the Waikato region, the service will ensure that older people can return to their homes sooner and more safely.

Without such a service, older people are more likely to need to move into residential care earlier. But we know that the majority of older New Zealanders want to remain at home for as long as they can and your service will play a key role in supporting them to do this.

Another way we can help older people remain independent at home for longer is by reducing the impact of osteoporosis and fragility fractures. To achieve this goal, we have made it a priority for district health boards to implement Fracture Liaison Services as part of their annual planning processes.

Fracture Liaison Services take a proactive approach to treating and preventing fragility fractures in our older population. Led by nurse practitioners, the services assess and treat fragility fractures and then, importantly, carry out interventions to reduce the person’s risk of future fractures.

I look forward to seeing how Waikato DHB uses the new facilities and services here at the Older Persons and Rehabilitation service to successfully implement a Fracture Liaison Service and help reduce the number and impact of fragility fractures amongst older people in Waikato.

The Government is committed to helping older New Zealanders live healthy and independent lives. This is demonstrated by the increased funding we continue to allocate to this area, despite tight financial times. For example, in Budget 2013 the Government announced a further $70 million over the next four years for aged care and dementia services. This built on aged care and dementia investments in Budgets 2011 and 2012 of $104 million and $136 million over four years.

As our population gets older, we need to ensure that we have the services and support in place to help our older people continue to live healthy and independent lives. As Minister for Senior Citizens and Associate Minister of Health, I am committed to achieving this goal.

Visiting new developments like your Older Persons and Rehabilitation unit gives me confidence that our health system is on the right track. I congratulate you all on the hard work you have put into making the new Older Persons and Rehabilitation service a reality.

It has been a pleasure to be here to celebrate this occasion with you today, and I look forward to touring the new building.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

ENDS


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