RWNZ has lodged a submission on the Ministry of Health’s update of the Health of Older people strategy, urging the Government to give priority to the unique needs of older adults in rural areas.
RWNZ Health spokesperson, Margaret Pittaway says, “The strategy sets out a worthy and aspirational set of goals for the health and wellbeing of older adults for the next ten years, yet it fails to give appropriate attention to the special and unique challenges of ageing in rural areas.”
In its submission RWNZ highlight ongoing barriers to access to older adult health services in rural areas, along with health disparities affecting this population group. ”Implementation of the actions in this strategy must be given special priority in rural areas, in particular the goal of bringing health services closer to home deserves immediate attention in rural areas” says Margaret Pittaway.
There remains a distinct lack of primary healthcare services in rural areas and geographical barriers of access. According to a survey of RWNZ members over 25% of those living in rural areas must travel over 30 minutes to access the closest GP. “There must be greater government investment in retaining and training a dedicated health workforce for rural populations, if the government is to achieve its goal of healthy ageing” says Margaret Pittaway.
RWNZ‘s submission also highlights concerns around working conditions for those in the aged care sector and lack of support for the family and carers of older adults. “Unfortunately the government’s ‘Ageing in place’ strategy has had the consequence of placing the burden of care of older adults onto family members. More support must be made available for those supporting loved ones with acute health needs”.