More rest homes needed

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 18/12/2012
Rest homes

South Canterbury's aged future.

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A major increase in aged care facilities will be needed if South Canterbury is going to meet the demand over the next decade.

Figures released to the Herald yesterday suggest the region can meet the current demand of 219,365 bed nights a year, but in 10 years' time, demand could rise to 298,286 a year - a nearly 40 per cent increase.

South Canterbury District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming said the figures were a mid-range projection.

"Models by their very nature are fraught with challenges of accuracy of prediction. However, rather than getting hung up on absolutes, the big picture indicates a 40 per cent increase in demand," he said.

"The health system alone will not be able to simply absorb this growth. As such it is incumbent to ensure the older people within our community are able to maintain their independence for as long as possible."

The projections, based on the Ministry of Health's newly-rolled out International Resident Assessment Instrument data model, also suggest that hospital admissions will increase from 70,000 bed nights in 2011/12 to over 93,000 in 2021/22, while rest home demand could increase from 124,000 bed nights in 2011/12 to 170,000 per year a decade later.

Strathallan Lifecare Timaru manager Debbie McMasters said the "baby boom bubble" was a concern. "There will continue to be more people maintained in their own homes for longer, but as the baby boom population gets older, we will need to find ways to accommodate them. Whether there is enough funding for them to do that remains an ongoing issue."

Mrs McMasters said the premises had undergone major expansions in the last three years, and its Konini St premises had 90 serviced and stand-alone apartments.

"The biggest thing is for people to be assessed at an appropriate time. We are seeing people coming into care much older, which makes it hard for them, and harder for the care workers," she said.

Other major developments in the region include a South Island-based consortium's proposed $45 million complex in Geraldine, expected to host 121 villas, 10 apartments and 12 assisted-care apartments, and to be completed over the next two years.

Age Concern Canterbury chief executive Stephen Phillips said the baby boomers would want more creature comforts.

"Unlike, say, the generation that went through the second world war, many will want greater access to technology, and more sophisticated facilities."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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