Media Release - 14/08/09
The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) will be increasingly supporting 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.
As part of its District Annual Plan, which sets out what the Board intends to achieve during the next 12 months, the CDHB is planning to focus on its provision of home-based support services for older people.
The aim of these services will be to support older people to retain their independence for as long as possible. It is also part of ensuring that the level of CDHB funding for provision of aged residential care is in line with what is provided by other district health boards and is financially sustainable in the long term.
To ensure it is tailoring its services to the needs of older people appropriately, the CDHB will be improving the way it assesses older people who are referred to its service by their General Practice or may need some help after a hospital stay.
Under the changes, older people with complex needs will be assessed in their homes by qualified assessors who, under the guidance of a team of health professionals, 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.
Older people with less complex needs will be assessed by telephone, and will be followed 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.
All older people, including those with less complex needs, will be regularly reviewed to ensure services are tailored and adjusted to ensure their needs are being met.
People who are currently receiving some form of assistance will be contacted over the next few months for a reassessment to check whether their needs have changed.
General Manager Planning and Funding Carolyn Gullery said the CDHB was committed to the Government’s and the Organisation for Economic Development’s (OECD) Ageing in Place strategy, which emphasises the importance of supporting older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.
Residential care will 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 be focussed on supporting them to retain their independence and personal capability rather than just doing tasks for them.”
Evidence suggests that most older people prefer to stay in their own homes and that this benefits both their physical and mental wellbeing.
Ms Gullery said as the average age of the Canterbury 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.”
Supporting the needs of an ageing population is a national and international challenge.
“The CDHB has a particular challenge because we have an older population. The number of people using community support services and aged care residential care services is greater than other regions.”