What Matters? Age Concern New Zealand Conference and AGM

Press Release – Age Concern

Delegates from around New Zealand have converged in Wellington for this three day event which will culminate in the election of a new National President. Age Concern is New Zealand’s leading organisation for older people, alleviating social isolation, …What Matters? Tough issues tackled at Age Concern New Zealand Conference and AGM

Delegates from around New Zealand have converged in Wellington for this three day event which will culminate in the election of a new National President.

Age Concern is New Zealand’s leading organisation for older people, alleviating social isolation, preventing elder abuse and neglect and offering information and advice through a network of 33 centres.

A highlight of today’s line-up was a panel discussion asking “if dignity goes out the window when older people enter the health system.”

Geriatrician, Dr Maree Todd said after 25 years working with older people everything in her wanted say “no!” She said progress has been made however, she acknowledged there was a lot of room for improvement.

Dr Todd held back tears as she remembered times her elderly father’s dignity was not upheld during his time in hospital.

On one occasion Dr Todd found her father had been fed a pureed diet for five days after he was cleared to eat solid foods. He was extremely hungry and readily ate a plate of hot chips Dr Todd brought for him.

CEO of New Zealand Aged Care Association Martin Taylor disagreed that dignity goes out the window “in the vast majority of cases.”

He noted dignity meant different things to different people and there were many different and valid perspectives on maintaining dignity.

Dignity is a key concept in Hospice Care, according to Dr Brian Ensor the Director of Palliative Care at Mary Potter Hospice.

“We would be deeply troubled if we thought dignity had gone out the window.” He says doctors need to sit down with patients and their families and listen, “talk a bit sure, but mainly listen.”

He said individuality is also recognized as being hugely important.

Coroner Ian Smith noted the Privacy Act can make family involvement in care difficult. He also said as the baby boomers come through older people will be more vocal about being treated with respect.

Professional Nursing Advisor Lorraine Ritchie gave a case study of a nurse caring for an older person in which best practice was observed, despite funding restrictions.

This panel discussion followed an interesting line-up of speakers including government ministers Hon Jo Goodhew and Tariana Turia and economist Susan Guthrie who tackled the big question of what the future holds for older New Zealanders.

ENDS

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