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New Research Into Aged-Care Will Assist With Needs

New Research Into Aged-care Sector Will Assist With Long-term Needs

New Zealand's aged residential care sector is to undergo research by the University of Auckland to better understand the pressures facing the industry.

David Mace, Chairman of the Freemasons Roskill Foundation said the research will be led by the Freemason's Professor of Geriatric Medicine Martin Connolly, who is based at Auckland University, and will be completed by the end of 2008.

HealthCare Providers NZ has welcomed news that the Freemasons Roskill Foundation have commissioned independent research into the growing dependency levels of elderly people in aged residential care.

"Having previously owned and operated the Roskill Masonic Village, we are delighted to continue our involvement in the aged-care industry by funding this important research" said David Mace, Chairman of the Freemasons Roskill Foundation.

"The needs of New Zealand's aged residential care sector continue to change. We have an increasing elderly population as people live longer," Mr Mace said. "Soon, we will see even greater demand as the 'Baby Boomer' generation requires aged care and so we need to ensure that New Zealand has a sector that can deliver quality care."

The research will repeat longitudinal studies run in 1988, 1993 and 1998 and will primarily explore the rate of institutionalisation of older people in the Waitemata, Auckland and Counties Manukau District Health Board regions. It will also measure the variation of resident dependency levels in the last 20 years and dependency levels with the different types of residential aged care facilities available, such as villages, stand-alone facilities.

"This research project is being promoted in conjunction with HealthCare Providers NZ, who represent the aged care sector", said Mr Mace. The research will be undertaken for the benefit of the elderly and the community at large, he said.

The research will also look at the level of care the resident receives. Ten years ago, our elderly would require residential care around the average age of 75. Today, it is 85, so we know people in care today are much older and more frail requiring a greater amount of attention.

"This leads to significant changes in the delivery of care. Aged care providers who are members of HealthCare Providers NZ are committed to the delivery of quality aged care and have commissioned the independent research to ensure we, as a society, can prepare for the future," Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor said that to date there is no research assessing dependency levels and how much they have increased in the last decade. The Ministry of Health has acknowledged that the need for such research is important but the Ministry has not prioritised or devoted any resources to dependency research in the future.

"It is important for Government, for providers and for our community to ensure the sector is sustainable - to make sure we provide the right care at the right time for our growing elderly population" said Mr Taylor.

Mr Taylor says the research will provide aged care providers with better information for future discussions over service provision. "We have told the Government year after year that this sector needs to be better supported, especially when keeping in mind the percentage of elderly in New Zealand is expected to double in the next 25 years as the Baby Boomer Generation ages ".

New Zealand's elderly make up about 12% percent of the population currently.

"Once we determine this, then providers, DHBs and the Government can sit down and see whether the current provision of care which is based on dependency levels established decades ago is appropriate for the next decade", he added.

The research team will be headed by Martin Connolly, Freemasons' Professor of Geriatric Medicine, University of Auckland, and Geriatrician for Waitemata DHB. The other members of the team are:

* Michal Boyd, Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Waitemata DHB and Senior Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology

* Joanna Broad, Epidemiologist and Research Fellow, University of Auckland (member of the original 1988-1998 longitudinal study research team).

* Ngaire Kerse, General Practitioner, and Associate Professor, University of Auckland.


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