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Home services for the elderly must prove they work

Home services for the elderly must prove they work

Thurs 4 August

It’s time for home health support services to prove they are making a difference for the elderly and disabled, says the CEO of one of New Zealand’s largest providers of social services.

Home health providers are meeting in Wellington this week at a conference being hosted by the New Zealand Home Health Association (NZHHA). The NZHHA represents 48 organisations which provide healthcare, personal care and support for sick, elderly and disabled people, living in their own homes.

This year’s theme is Fronting Up.

Keynote speaker Rod Watts, CEO of Presbyterian Support Northern, says it is now critical for the home health sector to measure the quality of its services and outcomes.

“With funding under increasing pressure it is important that home care providers can prove their programme is making a difference. Government is increasingly wanting demonstration that funded services are of benefit.”

Dr Watts says it’s also critical for the elderly that the quality of support for them at home can be measured. “Sometimes we may be providing a high standard of service but not necessarily the right service.”

Dr Watts says Presbyterian Support Enliven Services has developed ‘results-based accountability’, a new way of working out how effective the support is for an elderly person, from their own perspective.

“Typically, in the past, the experiences of the people getting the care haven't been studied robustly. Older people are at the heart of the new system, we need to know what works for them and what they need. Over the past four years, Presbyterian Support has been measuring quality and outcomes, including two years of collecting information from older people living in the community.”

He says results-based accountability is proving to be very successful.

“For example, one factor measured is the ‘service achieved results’, which is part of examining ‘how well did we do?’. These have increased from 71 percent of clients stating in the first survey (October 2009) that results have been achieved, to 81 percent stating this in the fourth survey (April 2011). In terms of the results-based accountability factor ‘wellbeing supported’, which is part of determining 'who has benefited’, the increase has gone from 65 percent in October 2009 to 77 percent in April 2011.

“Measuring the quality and outcomes of home health care is now critical if the home health community sector is to move forward. We need to account for funding and to show that home support is making a real difference.”

NZHHA Chief Executive, Julie Haggie, says the conference will address critical issues for the home health care sector. “As a larger proportion of our citizens age, networks and services in the community will need to be strong so we can be supported to live for longer, where we want to live.”

Other keynote speakers at the conference include UK expert in health and social care, Gerald Pilkington, talking about the benefits of helping people with poor health to re-learn the skills necessary for everyday life; Chai Chuah, Director of the National Health Board talking about key health trends and new models of care; Tania Thomas, Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner (Disability), talking about what it takes to be consumer-centred, and Phillippa Smith, Deputy Auditor General, talking about the recently released performance audit on home based support services for the elderly.

There will also be presentations on health service inequalities for Maori who experience dementia, how health services responded to the Canterbury earthquake, as well as a look at some exciting new developments in homecare in New Zealand – including presentations on intensive home support for people leaving hospital after surgery or illness.


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