Flip thinking in care for the elderly

“Looking at care another way: flip thinking in care for the elderly” was the title of the talk given by Marian and Jan Westlake on 11 March at the City Gallery.  Grey Power Wellington was invited as we are a lobby group for the elderly.

Key ideas

  • with the increasing number of elderly people need care we need to think differently. Be driven not by what we think they want but by what they think they want.

Allow them

  • Autonomy, the elderly have not lost their minds
  • Reciprocity. the elderly still want to contribute
  • Dignity, we all want this

Differences between Netherlands and New Zealand

They discussed the differences between the Netherlands (NL) and NZ acknowledging that not everything was transferable which then led into outlining some of the approaches used in the NL.

One key difference was that the NL government will not provide funding to private providers which means that only 2% are private. Another is  that the government funding goes to care and the space is paid for by individuals. The is based on the assumption that everyone had a house or paid rent for space so they can continue to do so. All aimed to enable social engagement in the doing of ordinary things. All were also organised  to ensure the clients only needed to relate to 16-20 people. This was managed even in larger facilities.

Examples of approaches

  • singles living together with shared facilities, including gardens
  • multi-generational living which had been set up using run down parts of the centres of towns which they could repurpose
  • 50+living: acknowledging the rise in divorce so people end up alone. This also had shared facilities
  • Students living in the same place as elderly and getting free board for 30 hrs a month engagement with the elderly, This was an initiative by a care provider who because of changes in government policy had space spare.

Dementia care

This was covered separately though there is considerable overlap in the was the care occurs.

They reiterated that groups of no more than 20 are best

The guiding principles of dementia care are:

  • compassion
  • focus on opportunities not challenges
  • in the community- several examples were in the centre of cities close to childcare and schools
  • $ follow person
  • regulations written to benefit the people

Caroline Hubbard


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