A new campaign is supporting more older people to return to living in their own homes after recovering from an accident or illness.
The Southern District Health Board launched the Home as my First Choice campaign on Monday at Dunedin Hospital.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of support options for older people, not only for patients and their families but also among health professionals.
SDHB Allied Health director Andrew Metcalfe said for many older people, being in their own homes was their first choice.
“Sometimes they encounter health services – after a fall, for example – and the wheels are set in motion to move them into residential care,” Mr Metcalfe said.
“Sometimes that’s the right option, but at other times it may not be the right move.”
Mr Metcalfe said Southern tended to be consistently within the “top three” of New Zealand DHBs for rates of admissions of people over 65 into residential care, and this needed to be addressed.
From January 1 to October 31, 2017, there were 841 new funded aged residential care residents in the Southern region.
Of these, 304 had been discharged from hospital on the same day and 40 went into care within a week after leaving hospital.
While there were complex reasons for the high rates in the Southern region, one factor was that often the older person’s voice was not heard, Mr Metcalfe said.
There was a perception there was not enough support available in the community, but providers were telling the DHB they could do the job.
“It is amazing what solutions can be found if all of us – health professionals, the older person themselves and their families/whanau – ask ‘how can we support you to stay at home?'” he said.
“Going home or remaining at home won’t be possible in all situations, but we want to explore every way that we can help make this happen.”
The Home as my First Choice campaign will tie in with other initiatives to help older people stay well at home, including the “Sit up, Get Dressed, Keep Moving” initiative and the Live Stronger for Longer programme.
And primary care, home support, clinical needs assessors and other health professionals will be encouraged to support a restorative approach to help people maintain their independence.
Information and resources are available to assist patients, their families and staff to talk more about the option of returning or remaining at home with support.
To older people, Mr Metcalfe has a clear message.
“If home is your first choice, whether you’re at home or in hospital, there are supports the DHB can put in place to make this happen.”