Launch of the Health of Older People draft StrategySenior Citizens
Good morning and could I start by thanking Garth (Taylor, CEO) and the Age Concern organisation for hosting this launch, and for their contribution in raising many of the issues discussed in the draft Health of Older People Strategy. I want to add my own welcome to everyone here, and I too want to pay tribute to those people and organisations that have been a key part of developing this strategy. I particularly want to thank Ruth Dyson for her tireless work in getting this draft strategy to where it is.
As Minister for Senior Citizens, I am delighted that we are celebrating this launch today as an important part of the work this government is doing to implement the Positive Ageing Strategy.
As with today's draft strategy, Age Concern was also a key group in the development of the Positive Ageing Strategy. When I launched Positive Ageing in April, I said that the underlying theme of the report was about empowering older people, and I spoke about the importance of government departments, as well as local authorities and community organisations, taking responsibility for their roles in working towards positive ageing goals.
Identifying and addressing health issues for older people and for people as they age, is of course a key component of the Positive Ageing Strategy. There has already been an overwhelming response around the country to this strategy and right now, Volunteer Community Co-ordinators are working within their regions to identify how the strategy can work for their communities, and how their communities can contribute to the process.
In health, as Ruth has already mentioned, we have already removed Older Persons Health from the Disability Support Services funding, and as Senior Citizens Minister I certainly welcomed this move as a positive one for older New Zealanders. Essentially this move recognises that older people do not have the same health needs as younger people.
I'll repeat today what I said then about that change: What we need in older persons' health is a comprehensive assessment, treatment and rehabilitation focus, as well as better access to elective surgery when needed and better integration of services, particularly between institutional care and the community.
This is the vision of the Positive Ageing Strategy and together with the Older Persons' Health Strategy, I am confident we will achieve that vision.
The National Health Committee report that Ruth mentioned has been a key basis for making important decisions about the future of older persons' health and the Ageing in Place philosophy that lies at the heart of this government's approach.
Today's launch is yet another significant step towards achieving the Positive Ageing and Ageing in Place goals that we have set ourselves for older New Zealanders.
Congratulations again to everyone who has worked hard to get this draft document completed. Thank you again, and I look forward to many discussions on the Health of Older People Strategy as we move towards the finalised document later this year.