Waikato District Health Board (DHB) will increasingly encourage and support older people to stay in their own homes as part of a long-term strategy to address the needs of the region’s ageing population.
The aim will be to support older people retain their independence for as long as possible and:
- to ensure Waikato DHB’s allocation of aged residential care placements and home based support services provides appropriate and quality care.
- develop restorative home support services to better support older people with a range of needs to remain in their home.
- to provide sustainable and affordable aged residential care and home based support services to Waikato DHB’s older persons.
Registered health professionals on behalf of Waikato DHB’s Disability Support Link will soon contact the 2500 people who currently receive some form of assistance for a reassessment to check whether their needs have changed. They will use the1 assessment tool to determine the levels of home and community support needed by older people with age-related disabilities.
Disability Support Link manager Kim Holt said residential care would continue to be an important option for people who are unable to remain at home, even with support.
“It is about giving older people the ability to remain at home in the community. To do this, some people need health-funded community services to help their short term recovery and others need long term support to help them remain well and to continue to do the things that are most important to them.
“The home-based support services will focus on supporting them to retain their independence and personal capability rather than just doing tasks for them.”
Evidence suggests that older people prefer to stay in their own homes and that this benefits both their physical and mental wellbeing.
Under the changes, there will be assessments of older people with complex needs completed in their homes, under the guidance of a team of health professionals who will work with the older person and their families to look at how they can maintain their independence.
This may include ensuring they are able to access services, which will enable them to stay at home.
Health professionals will phone older people with less complex needs and follow up face-to-face as required. There will no longer be scope for providing cleaning services to people who are otherwise socially active and well.
There will be regular reviews of all older people, including those with less complex needs, to ensure tailored services meet their need.
Mrs Holt said as the average age of the Waikato population continued to increase, it would be important to ensure that the right mix of services was in place.
“We will need to ensure that we have the correct assessment processes in place so our elderly people are able to access the right supports for their individual needs.”
1 InterRAI is an international collaborative to improve the quality of life of vulnerable persons through a seamless comprehensive assessment system.
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