Supporting our seniors in Christchurch

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ensuring our seniors have the security, wellbeing and respect they deserve is something all New Zealanders see as a priority. 

In Christchurch we see our seniors contribute in so many different ways to our community.  Many are unpaid carers who give up their time to help other people live with dignity. It is vital for their own wellbeing they are able to get the support they need to look after themselves and the people who rely on them.


Developed by Carers NZ with the help of government agencies, we recently released an updated Guide for Carers, an invaluable source of information on the government-funded services. The guide also contains a range of valuable tips for carers including how to schedule regular breaks, organise relief care, develop a plan for emergencies and connect with other carers. 

As New Zealanders live longer, healthier and increasingly independent lives, we need a healthcare system flexible enough to meet these changing needs. Fortunately, we have just opened the fabulous new Burwood Hospital here in Christchurch. It’s a $215 million facility focusing on services for older people which were previously located at the Princess Margaret Hospital. 



Currently DHB's spend more than 40 per cent of the $12 billion they manage on providing health and disability services to people aged 65 years and older. Based on the forecast growth of this age group, this spend is expected to rise to 50 per cent of DHB expenditure by 2025/26.

Over the last eight years DHB spend on the health of older people support services, has increased from $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion. Investment in aged residential care has risen from $710 million to a billion dollars this financial year.

As we live longer, access to elective surgery becomes increasingly important. Under this Government, the number of patients receiving elective surgery has increased by 45 per cent. The number of joint replacements has also increased – lifting from 8,400 to over 11,000 a year.

We are looking at new ways of helping patients living with pain. In 2015, the Government invested $6 million to create community based Mobility Action Teams to focus on helping those with musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis.

The vision for our Health of Older People Strategy is that older people live well, age well and have a dignified end of life stage. The Strategy covers five themes - people-powered, closer to home, value and high performance, one team, and a smart system. 

Proactively working to keep older people safe is another important part of our work. ACC is supporting a range of initiatives for seniors; investing $30.5 million over four years aimed at reducing falls and resulting injuries. While there is no single cause of falls, they are the most common and costly cause of injury for those aged 65 and over.

We are all very aware that as our population ages it is important we have the right services in place. There is no silver bullet so we are providing a broad range of initiatives to support seniors to they can make the right decisions to ensure they have the best quality of life.