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Age Concern Supports Palliative Care Strategy

Age Concern strongly supports the vision of palliative care set out in the just released New Zealand Palliative Care Strategy.

“We welcome this strategy with its emphasis on timely access to quality palliative care for all people who are dying and their family/whanau,” says Dr Margaret Guthrie, National President of Age Concern New Zealand.

“This strategy acknowledges that to date palliative care has not always been well understood, nor incorporated into practice. All too often frail older people die in distress, which affects their families as well as themselves. Quality palliative care must be able to be accessed by all people who are dying, not only persons who have cancer,” Dr Guthrie says.

The strategy acknowledges some important issues of access and quality. Age Concern New Zealand supports the development of a service that will build on existing service arrangements and expertise, will offer specialist regional support for local providers and that acknowledges the need for workforce development to ensure competency.

“It is also pleasing that the strategy aims to develop a responsive and flexible system that will support a person’s choice to die at home or in an appropriate care setting that is relevant to their needs,” Dr Guthrie says.

“Palliative care is effective. It improves the quality of life of the person who is dying and their family/whanau. Quality palliative care offers total care that acknowledges each person's uniqueness, culture and autonomy and is based on expressed needs and choices,” Dr Guthrie says.

The injection of funds for the development of palliative care services in all regions is welcomed by Age Concern New Zealand. It is also important that the needs of the dying are acknowledged financially. Age Concern looks forward to the establishment of a working party to address issues of income support to relieve the financial burden on people who are dying and their family/whanau.

“Real quality care, available to all who are dying, will lessen the call for assisted death,” says Dr Guthrie. “It will also result in less grief, with associated distress and illness, in those who remain.”


Age Concern is a not-for-profit, charitable organisation working to promote the well-being and quality of life of older people in New Zealand, since 1948.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Margaret Guthrie, National President, ph (home) 04 233 9016

or Ms Claire Austin, Chief Executive, ph (work) 04 471 2709 or mobile 025 243 6991

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