Valuing Older People

- finding out more

"Remember, there is wisdom in age and long life brings understanding" (Job 12:12).

"People in their later years who have seen it all and survived are better role models than athletes and sports-people who are still wet behind the ears." (Professor David Richmond)

How do we change the negative attitudes and ageism that are present in our society to a better place where older people are valued? There are many good things happening and some information out there, but it is not always easy to get a good picture of where to turn to for help, who to ask? 

Valuing Older People - what this really means

Here are some resources to help reflect on what is happening to our society as more people live longer and healthier lives. [Read more...]

Social Services and Older People

Christian social service providers have a significant commitment to providing aged care services and continue to provide a vast range of services across the full spectrum of services for older people. [Read more...

Care and Support in the Community

There is a revolution happening in the way older people are supported and cared for in NZ. More people are being cared for in their own homes, new ways of living such as supported living units are becoming available. [Read more...]

Poverty and Older People

New Zealand has an international reputation for its “success story” in keeping older people out of poverty. [Read more...]

 Housing

Right now there are very limited housing options for older people who do not have large financial resources. NZCCSS looks to a future where there are many different kinds of housing, rental or owned, with and without formal support services. [Read more...]

 Workforce

The work of caring in our society is the most important yet most undervalued work of all. Without the care for our children, those who are disabled or sick, our society would crumble. [Read more...]

 Dementia and Alzheimers

A growing number of people are living with dementia in New Zealand. Currently there are about 38,000 dementia sufferers and this is expected reach 54,000 in a little over 10 years time. Compared to other diseases, dementia has a big impact if counted in the number of years of healthy life lost as a consequence of the condition. [Read more...]

Spirituality and Ageing

Recognition of the spirituality of ageing is one of the distinctive characteristics of Christian social services. Spirituality has been described as that which lies at the core of a person’s being, and which gives ultimate meaning to life... [Read more...

 Research

It is vital that research is done on the way that the massive social change accompanying our ageing population will impact on us. [Other organisations involved in research on ageing in NZ]

Information and Advocacy for Older People:

There are a number of key organisations involved in advocating for and working towards a society that values older people's lives. [Read more...]  

 


Valuing Older People - what this really means

Here are some resources to help reflect on what is happening to our society as more people live longer and healthier lives.

"What Choices Will We Have as We Get Older?": Let's celebrate the success story of living longer! The fact that more people are living longer than ever before is something we should be celebrating as an outstanding achievement. [Download brochure from 2008 Call for More Action]

“Bring on the Baby Boomers” - in this booklet the Presbyterian Church looks at the Christian tradition and what it has to say about ageing. It includes analysis of the social and spiritual aspects of our ageing society, with discussion questions and much food for thought. [Download booklet]

“Will NZ be a great place to grow old?” Canadian social researcher Satya Brink compares the NZ experience to other countries around the world. She identifies some of the things we have a do as a society to ensure that NZ will indeed be a great place to grow old. [Download conference presentation]

“Carriers of culture, anchors of families…” Dr Mason Durie reflects on the role of older people as carriers of culture, anchors for families, models for lifestyle, bridges to the future, bulwarks for industry, guardians of landscape and leaders of communities and nations: [Download conference presentation]

“Ageing is living – preparing for positive ageing” is a project of Age Concern NZ to encourage all New Zealanders to age well: [Download booklet from Age Concern website]

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Social Services and Older People

Christian social service providers have a significant commitment to providing aged care services and continue to provide a vast range of services across the full spectrum of services for older people. This includes informal, community and parish-based initiatives through to formal home support services, residential aged care, supported rental accommodation and retirement villages. Our particular commitment is to those on the margins who through their high levels of need and/or lack of financial means are left with few options in their later lives. 

A Vision for True Sustainability. Co-operation, a shared vision and a focus on the wellbeing of the people and communities being served. A network of services that share a vision of Christian compassion and service. They share a motivation to be there for the most vulnerable and stay in for the long haul. This is part of the vision that NZCCSS President Shaun Robinson set out in his opening address to the 2010 NZCCSS Services for Older People Conference "Together We Can". [Read the conference presentation]

More Compassion, Greater Justice and More Fairness. This briefing was prepared for Church Leaders to provide an overview of the situation in the services for older people sector and sets out our vision for justice and compassion for older people.[View Briefing to Church Leaders November 2007]

Justice and Compassion for Older People (September 2007). This paper summarises the key policy positions taken by NZCCSS on issues in the services for older people sector. [Read document]

Future of Services for Older People. This paper was prepared for the 2006 NZCCSS Services for Older People Conference “Future Directions”. It looks ahead 10 years to 2016 to see what the shape of the aged care sector might be. It covers the shift to community based services, impact of technology and the changes in expectations and aspirations of older people. [Download document]

The Particular Contribution of Christian Social Services. Spirituality, justice for the poor, advocacy, partnership, these are parts of the distinctive vision and perspective that Christian social services bring to aged care. In November 2005 NZCCSS set out its understanding of the distinctive contribution of Christian social services and a vision for the future of services for older people. [Read more]

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Care and Support in the Community

He rakau tawhito, e mau ana te taitea i waho ra, e tu te kohiwi

An ancient tree with sapwood just adhering to the outside, but the heartwood standing firm

There is a revolution happening in the way older people and supported and cared for in NZ. More people are being cared for in their own homes, new ways of living such as supported living units are becoming available, rest homes are changing the way they work to help older people regain function, at the same time older people who do need to live in a rest home tend to be frailer and have higher needs than was the case on previous decades.

Here are three examples that give an idea of the ways things are changing, but there are many more ideas and initiatives happening:

Enliven is a service offered by Presbyterian Support organisations throughout New Zealand that is aimed to enable older New Zealanders to stay in their own homes and to remain in control of their own destiny. Find out more at the Enliven website: www.enliven.org.nz

Wesley Community Action in Wellington is a Methodist organisation that has long experience in working alongside older people in the community to help maintain their independence and quality of life. Find out more: www.wesleyca.org.nz/

Selwyn Centres in Auckland are parish-based drop-in centres for older people coordinated through the Anglican Selwyn Foundation. Operating from 10 parish buildings throughout greater Auckland, they offer older people in their communities a morning programme, which includes gentle exercise, social time and activities for a nominal fee. For many older people it is a chance to get out of the house and socialise and is also an opportunity for family carers to take a break. Find out more: www.selwyncare.org.nz

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Poverty and Older People

New Zealand has an international reputation for its “success story” in keeping older people out of poverty. There are fewer older people suffering hardship compared to other age groups (such as children - see our brochure on children) according to the available evidence. NZ Superannuation is a universal income support paid to all older people meeting basic residency requirements and is set at a level that is tied to the average wage and indexed against inflation. This is a model of how to protect people from the worst effects of income poverty.

Of course this does not mean that older people in NZ are living in luxury at the expense of the state! Living on NZ Superannuation without any additional income is a life on the edge of poverty. Life on just under $15,000 a year is not luxury and more than two-thirds of older people have little or no additional income above their NZ Super. This is a very large group of people very vulnerable to any changes in policy or economic circumstances.

Rising food, energy and fuel costs impact older people greatly and it is a challenge moving into the future for NZ to ensure that NZ Superannuation is kept at a level that is above the poverty line. Access to free or low-cost services is also part of reducing poverty and the SuperGold Card, free primary care, low-cost public transport, rates rebates, prospect of energy costs rebates all contribute. The Office for Senior Citizens has summarised the situation in its briefing to the Minister of Senior Citizens. [Read more]

Looking to the future there a many risks that we need to be alert to now because decisions being taken now will have massively compounded effects into the future. Auckland University academic Susan St. John covers the issues in her speech to the 2007 Gerontology Conference. [Read more]

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Housing and Older People

Right now there are very limited housing options for older people who do not have large financial resources. NZCCSS looks to a future where there are many different kinds of housing, rental or owned, with and without formal support services. Whether modifying their existing homes, moving to new retirement communities, flatting, home sharing, the possibilities are many but its is important that the options are affordable and that we start working on it now!

Christian social service agencies are among the leaders in implementing new models of supported independent accommodation (SIA) for older people in New Zealand. A series of case studies of various models of SIA are the feature of the NZCCSS report: “Rising to the Challenge: The Role of Christian Social Services in Matching Older Peoples Housing with Support Needs.” [Download Executive Summary]

“Old, Cold and Costly”- In 2004 Presbyterian Support Otago looked at the housing situations of older people Dunedin. This report has useful insights for anyone interested in housing issues for older people.

Helping older people to modify, renovate and maintain their existing homes is an idea well-established in the UK that could also be used in NZ. Find out more in this conference presentation from Community Housing Aotearoa [Download Powerpoint presentation]

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Workforce in Care & Support of Older People

“Every day you go to work and there are dozens of people thrilled that you are there. You are smiled at and welcomed like you have been gone for a week when you were only there the day before. You are thanked for almost everything you do and you can leave at the end of your shift knowing that you have made a positive contribution to someone’s day. How many people are lucky enough to have a job like this?”

Aged-care nurse Kaye Jensen
(quoted in Insite Magazine Feb-March 2008)

The work of caring in our society is the most important yet most undervalued work of all. Without the care for our children, those who are disabled or sick, our society would crumble. This work is both paid and unpaid work, and the unpaid, informal care provided by hundreds of thousands of people in NZ is crucial as is the work of the paid carer workforce.

Tens of thousands of care and support workers provide the overwhelmingly majority of the paid work to support that older people. The workers who stand beside older people are mostly women and the average age is in the mid-40s. They have many life skills and experience that they bring to the job and show great commitment to caring for older people. Right now there is a shortage of care workers and the type of work they need to do is becoming more complex and they are often working with older people with very high needs.

Most services for older people are government funded and there is an urgent need to increase wage levels, improve working conditions and increase formal training levels for care and support workers to help meet the changing skill needs of this workforce.

There has been some change in recent years and some funding for wage increases has been given. New types of training with nationally recognised qualifications are helping care workers to learn the skills required to meet the changing landscape in services for older people.

But much more work is needed! Consultant Janice Burns explains the situation on behalf the the Human Rights Commission and Equal Equal Employment Opportunities Trust: www.neon.org.nz/newsarchive/jb/

There is a need for more aged care nurses to work in the non-government health and social service sector. Significant investment is required to create the infrastructure to train many caregivers and nurses to work in the flexible and changing environment. District Health Boards and the Ministry of Health are cooperating on a Future Workforce project that seeks to address the problems facing the health workforce. it is important that the community sector also benefits from this work. You can download the reports looking at the care & support ("non-regulated") workforce and nursing workforce at this website: www.dhbsharedservices

Informal carers need further support, both to manage their working and other family life around the care they are providing. Carers NZ is the organisation that advocates for and supports those who are in carer roles: www.carers.org.nz/

Carers' Strategy: The Carers' Strategy, is supported by a Five-year Action Plan to begin addressing some of the issues that impact on the thousands of New Zealanders who assist friends and family members that need help with everyday living because of ill health, disability or old age. Find out more: www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/policy-development/carers-strategy/index.html

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Dementia and Alzheimers

A growing number of people are living with dementia in New Zealand. Currently there are about 38,000 dementia sufferers and this is expected reach 54,000 in a little over 10 years time. Compared to other diseases, dementia has a big impact if counted in the number of years of healthy life lost as a consequence of the condition

NZCCSS members provide many support services for older people with dementia and there are many issues for those services going into the future. Most important is to find ways to supporting people early so that they can learn to manage their condition and avoid getting into emergency situations.

There needs to be more investment in models of community based support for people with dementia in their own homes, day activity programmes, alternative supported living options when people cannot manage in their existing house and sufficient specialist dementia care facilities are available for those with higher levels of dementia. More training is required for those working with older people to help them better understand and meet the needs of dementia suffers. All these services need to be funded at a level that is enough to ensure long term stability and sustainability of the services.

In 2009 the NZCCSS Working Together We Can Respond to Dementia project took an in depth look at some responses to dementia within our social services networks. You can read the full project report here: [Download PDF].

Alzheimers NZ is the national organisation committed to represents people with dementia, their carers and families, through advocacy, raising public awareness and providing information. In 2008 they published a major report on the economic impact of dementia in New Zealand. Download the full report here and the executive summary here.

NZCCSS members are among the leaders and innovators in dementia care. For example, the Harakeke Club run by Presbyterian Support in Christchurch is a model of innovation and leadership in dementia care in the community. They seek to make a positive difference through "building services in which the values of compassionate and effective relationships are just as important as the presenting problem". [Read more]

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 Spirituality and Ageing

Recognition of the spirituality of ageing is one of the distinctive characteristics of Christian social services. Spirituality has been described as that which lies at the core of a person’s being, and which gives ultimate meaning to life and spiritual well-being as “the affirmation of life in a relationship with God, self and environment….and which nurtures and celebrates wholeness” (quoted in NZCCSS Landscape paper).

Faith community nursing is one way that Christian communities are offering support and care to older people. Read more in the NZCCSS 2008 Conference session on Faith Community Nursing.

The Selwyn Foundation in Auckland has recently established the Selwyn Centre for Ageing and Spirituality (SCAS) as a New Zealand voice for the spiritual needs of older people: SCAS

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Research on Ageing

It is vital that research is done on the way that the massive social change accompanying our ageing population will impact on us.

NZCCSS was part of a working group established by the Ministry of Social Development in 2009 to try to better coordinate and network the researchers and their work and look at priorities for future research. Research on population ageing includes research on those who are 65 years and over and the preceding generational cohorts. It includes broader research on population dynamics, its implications for ethnic, cultural, regional, and life-course diversity, and its impact on social policy, services and New Zealand’s economy. View a presentation on this work at the 2009 Gerontology Age Concern Conference [Download PDF]

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Other Organisations Involved in Research on Ageing in NZ

The New Zealand Institute for Research on Ageing (NZiRA) is an initiative from Victoria University of Wellington. Its mission is to foster understanding of such issues through promoting multidisciplinary research, in partnership with other interested organisations and individuals. www.victoria.ac.nz/nzira/

Enhancing Wellbeing in an Ageing Society (EWAS) is a combined project of the Anglican Family Centre Lower Hutt and Waikato University concerned to improve the future wellbeing of older people. It is a five-year research project that looks to increase the knowledge base about what wellbeing is for older people, look at the transitions into older age, research the perspectives and experiences of older people and how this knowledge can be used. www.ewas.net.nz/

GERaC is a core group of academics and researchers based at the School of Nursing within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, at The University of Auckland. They provide research and consultancy services for organisations who provide care and support to older or disabled people living in the community or in institutional settings. www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/son/gerac/projects.aspx

The Massey University Health, Work and Retirement project is looking at the relationship between workforce participation in midlife and health wealth and independence in later life. [Read project summary]

Gerontology Association is a multidisciplinary organisation committed to understanding ageing and promoting the interests of older people. www.gerontology.org.nz/index.php

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Information and Advocacy for Older People

Please find further links regarding information and advocacy for older people on our Links page

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