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Speech opening $7 million extension at Elizabeth Knox Home

Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health

1 August 2014

Speech opening $7 million extension at Elizabeth Knox Home in Auckland

It is a pleasure for me to be here to speak at the opening of Nikau House. This is an exciting time for you all, a new beginning and I’m glad to be able to share this with you.

I commend the management of Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital for the decision to invest in the future of your facility, thereby future-proofing the care that your residents will receive.

It is great to be back here, after I opened the first stage of this site in 2011. This is another stage in the story of this hospital – which was formally recognised as a hospital in 1939 when it began accepting returning wounded or sick soldiers.

Over 80 years later it’s great to see this site continue to evolve.

Overseeing the development of a brand new building, while still ensuring the wellbeing of your residents, must have been no easy task and I congratulate you on this achievement.

Thank you to Jill for your warm welcome.

And congratulations on receiving the Nancy Fox Award, it is a testament to your leadership.

I would also like to acknowledge the following people:

• the legacy of Elizabeth Knox – without her generosity and vision we would not be here today
• Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital Board members
• Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital residents, their families and staff.
• The Right Reverend Ross Bay, Bishop of Auckland

Whenever we start a building project, there are always inconveniences to go through – but how quickly we forget those inconveniences once you see the finished product!

I am told this $7 million development:

Will add 60 new rooms to the 140 residents already here at Knox Home

Is designed to create home-like surroundings and features that allows residents the support they require to continue to live as independent lives as possible

And that the design will mean every resident has their own bedroom with ensuite bathroom

Will have a family-like home community, with its own open plan kitchen, dining room and lounge and which is furnished very comfortably and including a cosy fireplace

I am told there was substantial design input by Knox staff and in consultation with residents to help create the ideal living environment for residents.

As a result residents will now have a state of the art facility to call home

Particularly, I was interested to hear that the development has:

• A new kitchen design after having trialled lower kitchens and established two new wheelchair accessible kitchens
• Ensuites with sliding bathroom doors which open 1 and half times wider than normal doors for easier access for wheelchair users
• A household model which provide smaller living areas to create a communal feel with clusters of 15, and
• A large courtyard which is now readily accessible for residents to enjoy

This is all about delivering the best quality care to residents – something that this National government has always supported

We know that New Zealand has an ageing population - which means the health system will face greater challenges over the coming years.

The growth rate of our over 75s will double over the next ten years to 2023.

So it is important that we are prepared to meet the demand for aged care services in the coming years

That’s why we announced $40 million of additional support for the elderly, including those with dementia as part of this year’s budget.

This was on top of the $20 million over four years as part of Budget 2013 that was directed to help get more older New Zealanders to stay in their homes longer, and most recently,

Budget 2014 also announced $96 million for increased home-based support services.

These initiatives are a sign of this Government’s commitment to ensure older New Zealanders are able to retain their independence and stay connected to their local communities.

Older people are also benefitting from the Government’s national commitment to provide more hip, knee and other elective surgeries.

Currently, district health boards are aiming to increase the volume of elective surgery by 4,000 discharges each year.

Since 2008:
• 18,000 extra people over 65 are receiving elective surgery, an increase of 39 percent.
• In 2013, 42 percent of all elective surgery was performed on this age group.

We are also investing in many other initiatives to benefit older people, wherever they may live.

These initiatives include the $50 million invested in 2012/13 in the Care Plus Programme, which helps people who will benefit from intensive care.

There are approximately 86,000 over 65s benefitting from Care Plus.

The Community Services Card scheme, which reduces the cost of some services such as after-hours doctor visits, emergency dental care, and home help.

And the Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card which restricts prescription costs to $100 a year. This scheme is a real help to older people with multiple or long-term conditions.

In addition to these broader initiatives, district health boards are also working to make sure that primary care can provide the best care to older people.

For example, using the expertise of geriatricians and nurse specialists in primary care, up-skilling GPs in areas such as diagnosing dementia.

While it is important to provide support for those who still live at home in their older years, we also know that for many older people residential options are needed.

The 2010 Aged Residential Care Service Review estimated that by 2026 we could have between 42,000 and 50,000 residents in aged residential care.

So far, residential care beds have increased sufficiently to meet demand.

New beds are available in large and small facilities, in retirement villages and standalone facilities, giving older people and their families the ability to choose the type of care and facility that meets their needs.

However, while bed numbers have increased to meet demand so far, continued growth must remain a priority to continue to meet this increasing demand.

This increasing demand means it is great to see the 60 new beds that will be available here at Nikau House for older people in Auckland.

The Government continues to invest in aged residential care. The growth in demand in this area is an important issue for our health sector, and one that we take seriously when considering future policy decisions.

In 2012/13, the Government spent a total of $928 million on aged residential care.

Improving the quality of care and assessment of aged residential care is also a priority for the Government.

Many improvements have been made to the audit regime over the last few years, including accreditation of auditors, combined district health board and HealthCERT audits, and spot audits.

The Government is currently rolling out interRAI, a comprehensive clinical assessment tool, in aged residential care. This assessment ensures that older people receive the same assessment regardless of where in New Zealand they live.

Knox Home is doing particularly well in this area, with 11 nurses already trained in the use of this tool.

As the population continues to age, we will see an increase in the number of people with dementia. Supporting people with dementia is a key priority for the Government.

The Government’s focus on supporting all people with dementia is highlighted by the development of dementia care pathways.

Dementia care pathways create a clear and supportive path – from a person’s diagnosis to their end of life stage – to make sure people with dementia and their families can easily access the services they need.

Everyone is included in the dementia pathway – health services, residential care, community, friends, family, and most importantly, the person with dementia.

These pathways encourage all health and social services to work together to provide people with seamless and integrated care.

This will make the whole care and support network easier for people and their families to navigate and use to ensure people can live the best lives they can with dementia.

Of course that involves a collaborative effort where government ensures health and support services meet the needs of those with dementia, and rest home and retirement village operators make sure that their homes and villages are designed and operate in a way that supports those with dementia to live the best lives they can.

It is great to see that this is a priority for Knox Home.

This government feels it is important we support our older people to remain active and independent, but also support those who might need more intensive support services.

The initiatives we have in place show that our whole health system is working to support older people, whether they are living at home or in a residential facility. They also ensure that older people and their families can have confidence in the services they are receiving.

This National Government is on the right track to achieving these goals.

The aged residential care sector will continue to have a big role to play in the future of aged care, and investment in this area is crucial to ensure that our services remain sustainable and provide the best possible care for our older people.

Once again, thank you for inviting me to speak with you all today. I am looking forward to a tour of Nikau House.

I also look forward to meeting some of you after this, and having the opportunity to talk more about Knox Home and the Government’s vision to ensure the best possible future for older New Zealanders.

ENDS

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