Aged-care urgency highlighted

A survey revealing an urgent need to plan for a huge increase in demand for residential care for the elderly confirms what many in the sector feared, says Otago-Southland Aged Care Association board member Malcolm Hendry.

The Aged Residential Care Service Review, released jointly yesterday by the New Zealand Aged Care Association, the Ministry of Health and 20 district health boards, highlights the residential care demand spike expected from 2012.

By 2026, the over-65 population is set to increase 84%, from 512,000 to 944,000. During that period, New Zealand's population is set to grow 20%, from 4.2 million to 5 million.

By 2026, an extra 12,000 to 20,000 elderly people would require residential care. There are 34,000 aged-care beds now.

Mr Hendry said the review confirmed anecdotal comments those in the industry had made for years. Because of the cost of building rest-homes, and lack of profitability, the sector risked being underprepared for the aged-care spike.

Mr Hendry said if the sector did not expand to meet demand, there was a risk the burden might fall on public hospitals, he said.

Southern District Health Board funding and finance general manager Robert Mackway-Jones said the review was especially pertinent to Otago and Southland, as the region had a slightly higher-than-average elderly population.

The DHB needed to work in partnership with the aged-care system to plan the sector's future, he said.



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