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The Southern District Health Board says despite cutting housework assistance, it spends 16% more on elderly people than the national average.
The figure will be presented to tomorrow's advisory committee on disability support services, part of a report highlighting the need to plan for when demand for elderly-care services is predicted to rise because of the ageing population.
"Southern DHB cannot continue to fund existing service models given the projected growth in the population of older people, many of whom have chronic/long-term conditions."
The report advocates a strategy involving supporting people to stay in their homes as long as possible, with services provided in the community and in people's homes.
Despite "intense efforts" to cut costs, the DHB spent about 16% more on the elderly than the national average.
"The DHB also spends around $12 million more . . . on [disability support services] than its population based funding share of national expenditure."
A particular issue was above average use of residential care.
When contacted, funding and finance general manager Robert Mackway-Jones said the correct figure was between $12 million and $16 million, depending how it was calculated.