Re­tire­ment care reaches ‘crisis point’

Western Leader - - LOCALJOBS - RUBY NYIKA

De­pend­ing on who you talk to, the crisis in aged care is ei­ther com­ing or al­ready here.

There is even an ugly term for one as­pect of it: bed-block­ing.

The def­i­ni­tion is sim­ple enough: be­cause of the age­ing pop­u­la­tion, when el­derly peo­ple end up in hospi­tal, they of­ten tied up beds for longer than strictly nec­es­sary be­cause there was nowhere for them to go.

They can’t go back home, be­cause they can’t cope alone. And if that home is a re­tire­ment vil­lage, most don’t of­fer nurs­ing care. And so they stay in hospi­tal.

And bed-block­ing was get­ting worse, Ry­man Health­care de­vel­op­ment man­ager An­drew Mitchell said dur­ing a re­source man­age­ment hear­ing into a Hamil­ton rest-home pro­posal.

‘‘The lack of re­tire­ment and aged care in New Zealand is at crisis point,’’ Mitchell said.

Dis­trict Health Boards’ spend­ing on ser­vices for older peo­ple has in­creased twice as fast as their over­all ex­penses over the last 10 years, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Health.

But sup­ply of qual­ity care wasn’t keep­ing up with the de­mand, due to the clo­sure of smaller rest homes af­ter aged-care pay in­creases, Mitchell said.

‘‘Res­i­dents that can­not cope in­de­pen­dently in their own homes are some­times forced to live in hos­pi­tals and there is no ac­cept­able com­bi­na­tion pro­vid­ing needs-driven res­i­den­tial care avail­able.


And 20,000 more New Zealan­ders will need res­i­den­tial care by is known as bed­block­ing.’’ 2026, ac­cord­ing to Te Pou, a govern­ment-funded or­gan­i­sa­tion.

But the term was de­grad­ing, older per­sons ad­vo­cate Dame Peggy Koop­man-Boy­den said.

‘‘Block­ing from who? Who has higher pri­or­ity? I think it’s deroga­tory.’’

And it dis­tracted from a big­ger is­sue - that New Zealand wasn’t ready for a dra­mat­i­cally older pop­u­la­tion, she said.

‘‘This was all pre­dictable. We have had pro­jec­tions. And if we don’t have enough re­sources, well, we have to try to work out our pri­or­i­ties and what we’re go­ing to do about it.’’

Grey Power na­tional pres­i­dent Tom O’Con­nor agreed the term was un­help­ful. He also said Mitchell was over­stat­ing the case, but ac­knowl­edged the baby boomer gen­er­a­tion was bulging into re­tire­ment.


There are fears a lack of ap­pro­pri­ate re­tire­ment care in New Zealand has hit crisis point.

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