E kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa. Ladies and gentlemen warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Simon O’Dowd, Chairman of the Aged Care Association; Martin Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of the Association, and Dr Davina Porock.
Tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you for inviting me to address the New Zealand Aged Care Association Conference today.
Every year I have a theme for my work and this year, the theme has been families and peace. My wife Janine and I have taken the opportunity to highlight the vital work of family-centred organisations, particularly those we support as patrons.
Last month, during our regional visit to Blenheim, Lady Janine’s itinerary included a visit to a purpose-built day-care facility for people living with Alzheimers. I know she was very impressed with the thought which had gone into the planning and layout of the centre, the level of care that the clients were receiving, and the support given to families. She met relatives of clients and heard about their experiences and the challenges that they faced.
Though we all know that ageing is inevitable, we cannot predict how we will age.
At some stage, our families may have to grapple with the issue of how to ensure that we live out our lives with dignity. For many of us that will not mean moving into aged-care facilities. For some it will.
The transition from living independently to living in aged care can be a significant challenge. For some, it may rupture the close bonds, intimacy and affection we value in our family lives.
Ideally, an aged care facility would replicate the qualities we associate with living as a family, so that our loved ones feel that there are people around them who take a personal interest in them, who listen to them, who know them.
It would recognise individual differences and find ways to accommodate them. It would be a place to thrive, rather than a place to decline.
I note with satisfaction a shift towards this approach is happening. The trend towards more people living in their own apartment, and care coming to them; or living in small units with other residents is a good indication that people are interested in them and listening to them.
I appreciate how essential the work of the Association members is. It is a special vocation, and I commend the many thousands of people in New Zealand who care for our elderly citizens, in aged care.
The theme of this conference: Facing tomorrow’s challenges denotes a proactive approach to the challenges of an aging population; the increased demands on your services; securing the workforce you need; the costs of care; and meeting the changing expectations of the challenging baby boomers.
By inference, the Association clearly views these challenges as opportunities – for engagement, for employment and for new ways to achieve quality care. In putting these challenges on the agenda, the Aged Care Association is showing leadership for the sector.
It is a leadership role that will only grow over time as the Association works with government, as a provider of rules and codes of conduct, and as a provider of professional development for those who work in the sector.
Your programme certainly looks to have plenty of food for thought. I wish you all the best for three days of stimulating and inspirational discussion.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa