Maximising health and wellbeing for all older people

News article

12 December 2019

Better integrated services for older New Zealanders is the focus of the next stage of New Zealand’s Healthy Ageing Strategy. This means New Zealanders can look forward to services and support being developed in ways that ensure they remain healthy as they get older and their health and support needs increase.

“The Healthy Ageing Strategy, developed in 2016, had 48 actions prioritised for implementation in the first two years,” says Keriana Brooking, Deputy Director-General Health System Improvement and Innovation at the Ministry of Health.

“These included a national framework for the Home and Community Support Service to ensure services for older people are delivered on a nationally consistent basis, improved training and conditions of employment for the Home and Community Support Service Workforce and the roll-out nationwide of an ACC-led programme of strength and balance initiatives for people at risk of falls. Evidence shows that these actions are already showing positive results.”

Ownership of the actions is spread across the Ministry of Health, District Health Boards, other government agencies and health sector groups.

Overarching priorities are:

  • monitoring and measuring progress
  • maintaining sector involvement and commitment, and
  • achieving greater equity for population groups.

This particularly applies to Māori, Pacific and ethnic and migrant communities, isolated and rural communities and those with low socioeconomic status.

“The focus of this next stage of the Strategy’s implementation is to ensure the systems to deliver support to older people are more integrated and accessible to all who need it,” says Keriana Brooking. “This is very much focussed on creating supportive environments which are person-centred, have prevention at the heart, and include closer to home rehabilitation when that’s required.”

 “The Ministry of Health, which developed the Strategy in collaboration with the sector and consumers, has been working with district health boards and other government agencies to identify which actions would be best to focus on to ensure people live well, age well and have a respectful end of life in age-friendly communities. This work will be ongoing and monitored.  It will create the opportunity to promote and extend successful initiatives when and where they are of benefit to older people.”

The Strategy’s actions are aligned to other relevant strategies and action plans, including the Office for Seniors’ recently unveiled Better Later Life strategy and the Ministry of Social Development’s New Zealand Carer’s Strategy Action Plan. The Strategy is also aligned with New Zealand’s Disability Action Plan, He Korowai Oranga: Māori Health Strategy and the Pacific Health Action Plan.

“This joined up approach enables us to focus on reducing inequities in access and to outcomes from the health system. It also allows us to begin addressing the socioeconomic determinants of health to prevent harm, illness and disability, and improve people’s safety and independence more than ever before.

“It’s an important part of wider government activity to address the issues that we know affect the wellbeing of older New Zealanders and their families and whānau and will inform the transformative Health and Disability System review, currently underway.”