Older people participate to their fullest ability in decisions about their health and wellbeing and in family, whanau and community life. They are supported in this by co-ordinated and responsive health and disability support programmes.
The following eight objectives identify areas where change is essential if the vision is to be achieved.
- Older people, their families and whanau are able to make well-informed choices about options for healthy living, health care and/or disability support needs.
- Policy and service planning will support quality health and disability support programmes integrated around the needs of older people.
- Funding and service delivery will promote timely access to quality integrated health and disability support services for older people, family, whanau and carers.
- The health and disability support needs of older Maori and their whanau will be met by appropriate, integrated health care and disability support services.
- Population-based health initiatives and programmes will promote health and wellbeing in older age.
- Older people will have timely access to primary and community health services that proactively improve and maintain their health and functioning.
- Admission to general hospital services will be integrated with any community-based care and support that an older person requires.
- Older people with high and complex health and disability support needs will have access to flexible, timely and co-ordinated services and living options that take account of family and whanau carer for people who are disabled.
Implementing the strategy
Both the Ministry of Health and DHBs have responsibility for implementing the Health of Older People Strategy. Appendix 2 provides a summary of the actions and key steps under each of the eight objectives. The Ministry’s timelines for completing the actions and key steps it is responsible for are set out in the strategy, where these are known. While DHBs will need to implement the strategy by 2010, milestone dates have not been given. Each DHB will determine how and when it will implement the strategy by 2010 and will signal this in its annual plans.
Some DHBs, predominantly those with high numbers or proportions of older people, have already established working groups to plan for and develop integrated services for older people. Canterbury and Northland DHBs are ‘early leaders’, working with the Ministry on the development of the integrated continuum of care approach. The process and outcomes of this work will provide guidance to other DHBs.
The strategy also poses challenges to service providers and health sector workers to change the way services are delivered to meet the needs of older people. The Ministry of Health and DHBs will work closely with these groups on ways they can contribute to a more integrated approach to health and disability support programmes for older people.
The Ministry of Health will monitor DHBs’ progress on the implementation of the Health of Older People Strategy against their annual plans. The Ministry will also undertake three-yearly reviews of progress to coincide with Ministry of Social Development status reports on implementing the Positive Ageing Strategy (Minister for Senior Citizens 2001).
Consultation on the Draft Health of Older People Strategy
The Government sought feedback on the proposals outlined in the draft Health of Older People Strategy: Health Sector Action to 2010 to Support Positive Ageing.
The draft Health of Older People Strategy sets out Government’s policy for the future direction of health and support services for older people. It identifies the need for significant change in the way services are provided for older people and sets out a framework for implementing those changes.
The draft Strategy sets out a demanding work programme to refocus health and support services to better meet the needs of older people now and in the future. The work programme is designed to guide planners, funders and providers of health and support services in developing an integrated continuum of care. This essentially means that the right services are provided at the right time in the right place, by the right provider.
Making the strategy a reality calls for the Ministry of Health, District Health Boards, health professionals and all with an interest in health services for older people to work together to make the changes we need by 2010.
The consultation document outlines the vision, objectives and actions needed to improve health and support services for older New Zealanders. It also contains examples of recent initiatives and background information.
The draft Health of Older People Strategy has been developed in collaboration with an expert advisory group and comment from sector reviewers. Feedback from this consultation process helped shape the final strategy, which was submitted to Cabinet early in 2002.