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Growing Elderly Population Needs Urgent Care Plan

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Growing Elderly Population Needs Urgent Care Plan

Wellington, Sept 8 NZPA - An urgent care plan is needed to meet the needs of New Zealand's over 65 population which will increase by 84 percent in the next 15 years, according to a major review.

The review, launched today, has been commissioned by leaders of the residential aged care sector, the district health boards (DHBs), and the Ministry of Health.

The review has identified an urgent need to plan for the residential care of the country's aging population.

By 2026, the over 65 population is expected to rise from 512,000 to 944,000 people as the overall population grows from 4.2 million to five million.

This will mean an additional 12,000 to 20,000 people will require aged residential care. There are currently just 34,000 aged care beds.

The release of the report was the start of an ongoing collaborative process to find solutions, DHBs chief executive for the health of older people Chris Fleming said.

By 2026 the supply of facilities needs to increase by up to 110 percent to meet the projected increase in residents, the report says.

The current operating profits from rest homes are insufficient to stimulate the required private sector investment and the workforce needed to service the aged care sector has to increase by up to 75 percent.

The report acknowledges that the situation "will pose challenges to the providers, DHBs, the Ministry of Health and the Government to respond in a manner that will proactively ensure a sustainable sector that meets the needs of New Zealanders into the future".

"The challenges are major and urgent and will take a robust collaborative approach between the key stakeholders, particularly the providers, the DHBs and Government to identify and implement the solutions," New Zealand Association of Aged Care Providers chief executive Martin Taylor said.

This was a unique opportunity to take the steps required and the aged care providers were prepared to throw their weight behind the search for a solution, Mr Taylor said.

The review has identified four scenarios for aged care services in the future:

- Improve the current approach;

- enhance professional services in the community;

- individualise funding to empower individuals to make their own choices;

- provide special purpose low income housing for the elderly.

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