Remaining in good health, ageing well and being able and supported to live well with long-term conditions, however complex, is critical to enable older people to continue participating and feeling valued (two important factors for health and wellbeing).
We have a good base to build on, with many significant improvements to the health and disability support system for older people since the release of the 2002 Health of Older People Strategy. For example, we are supporting more people than ever with long-term health conditions and disabilities to remain in their homes for longer. We also provide more consistent and comprehensive needs assessments, greater choice and improvements in the quality of home and community services and aged residential care. Moreover, access to elective surgery has improved, as have discharge practices.
We want to maintain the positive changes we’ve seen over the last 14 years and improve on them in the current context. Our operating environment and the strategic context in which we work have changed. We need a new strategy that expands on the strengths of the past and sets the direction for improved performance and outcomes across the board.
The Healthy Ageing Strategy (the Strategy) is for older people, their families and their communities. Older people are by no means a homogenous population group. We don’t become ‘old’ at any particular age or in the same way. Ageing is only partially associated with chronological ageing and it does not ‘start’ at 65. Some older people remain independent and competent, both physically and mentally, throughout their older years. Some enter their older years with long-term or chronic health conditions or disabilities, and their needs become more complex as they age. Others develop disabilities and become dependent as they age, due to cognitive and physical decline, and conditions such as dementia.
We need to ensure our system is truly people-centred and appropriate to New Zealand’s growing ethnic diversity.
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