Rebuild ideal time to set strategy for the disabled

Chris Ford
Chris Ford
A new Dunedin hospital being built makes this the perfect time for the Southern District Health Board to institute a disability strategy, the Disabled Persons Assembly says.

Almost a year after its expected deadline for releasing the document, Monday’s SDHB disability support advisory committee meeting will finally discuss the draft strategy.

"A number of events that occurred in 2019 disrupted the original timeline, such as the Christchurch mosque shootings, but the development is now back on track," quality and clinical governance solutions executive director Gail Thomson said.

If adopted, the SDHB would take a co-design approach with the disabled community in all its planning, develop data collection systems to ensure the needs of the disabled were recognised and met, and improve communication with disabled people.

Disabled Persons Assembly kaituitui-community networker Chris Ford said the new hospital and the SDHB’s redesign of primary health care services was the ideal time to have the needs of the disabled at the forefront of discussions.

"We need to think about the long-term needs of our population. As our population ages there will be an increased number of disabled people in our society, and their medical and social needs will need to be met.

"This is the optimal time to look at how disabled people can get fully equitable access to health services in the region."

Mr Ford, a member of the original steering committee for the project, said the strategy was long-awaited, and was something which had been called for by both the DPA and other disability organisations.

"It is really quite positive that we have reached this stage but, as always, the document will need to be tweaked, and I would encourage people to get involved during the public consultation process.

"It is very heartening to see that the DHB is making that preliminary commitment, but there is still more to do."

If approved by the committee, the strategy will be opened for public consultation.

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