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Expert Advocates Fresh Approach To Aged Care

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Expert Advocates Fresh Approach To Aged Care

New Zealand is being urged to take a fresh look at the way it cares for the elderly to eliminate loneliness, helplessness and boredom.

These three things account for the bulk of suffering amongst older people, according to an Australian aged care consultant. Joanne Hope-Murray, a nursing lecturer and Vice Chair of Eden in Australia and New Zealand, was addressing delegates to the New Zealand Home Health Association (NZHHA) conference in Wellington today. The three day conference, themed Dollars & Sense, is looking at the future of aged and disability care in New Zealand against a backdrop of an ageing population and rising healthcare costs.

Ms Hope-Murray represents The Eden Alternative ' a new philosophy she says is revolutionising aged care around the world and reducing costs because it leads to happier, healthier clients and lower staff turnover.

The Eden Alternative ' is based on 10 principles aimed at making environments in which elderly people are cared for much more vibrant and interactive and their lives and activities more meaningful. Some of the principles include having continuing contact with plants, animals and children, less emphasis on structured routines and the opportunity to give as well as receive care, such as looking after pets. "Current funding models are based on a silo approach which is not consistent with a continuum of care for the elderly from assistance in the home to residential care. The Eden Alternative ' is about normalising everyday living, fostering lifelong learning and incorporating a community spirit by addressing the plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom."

Ms Hope-Murray told delegates that real change requires a paradigm shift in the way we currently think about how we deliver services in the community and residential care.

"Our culture is so focussed on the young. We need to start valuing the wisdom and experience of our older citizens like some traditional cultures do."

The Eden Alternative ', which was founded in America, has been operating in selected aged care facilities in Australia for a decade. New Zealand has nine facilities practising the philosophy.

Ms Hope-Murray told conference delegates, representing New Zealand home health care providers, that The Eden Alternative ' is equally applicable to the care of elderly living in the community.

"What it requires is a workplace culture change to replace ageist attitudes and policies with a more elder-centred approach that honours and values older people and supports them to live rich and interesting lives."

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