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  • Writer's pictureCarol Barron

Getting older is no joke!

The old adage is true and it is happening to more and more of us. The number of older people aged 65+ is set to increase markedly.

Source: NZCCSS Te Kōrero mō ngā Kaumātua, 2022, p14

Older age can be great – especially if you own your own home and if have been able to save for your retirement. However, the reality of retirement is quite different if you have been a life-long renter and just managing to make ends meet financially with nothing left over to save for retirement. If this is the case, people can be faced with a decision about whether they can afford to retire or not. Will they be able to continue to pay market rental for accommodation and afford to eat and pay for power?

If you don’t have a house that you can sell it is likely that you will not have enough money to buy an occupation right agreement at a fancy new, or even older, retirement home.

If you are lucky enough to have a small amount of savings, the grim reality is that these will be quickly used up paying for living costs as National Superannuation is not enough to cover the costs of rent, power, phone, food, etc.

Our growing ageing population means we have a growing need for safe, accessible, and affordable housing for older people. However, there is very few safe, affordable, accessible homes available and demand is high. Christchurch Methodist Mission has closed the wait list for Wesley Village, as it was up to 80 people, and the turnover is only two or three a year.

Wesley Community Action and Christchurch Methodist Mission have built houses and rent these to households off the social housing register and some of these homes are built specifically to be accessible for those with compromised mobility - so there are no steps to enter the home, and a wet-area bathroom with a shower and toilet.

The Methodist Church had many residential care facilities around the motu, however now only four are solely run my Methodists, and these are:

  • Everil Orr in Auckland

  • Tamahere Eventide & Atawhai Assisi in Hamilton; and

  • WesleyCare in Christchurch

In addition to these services, Methodist Alliance members provide other services to meet the changing needs of the growing cohort of our kaumātua. These include:

  • Wesley Community Action is a certified dementia friendly organisation and provides an Elder Abuse Response Service and has a supported independent living service for people living alone with no family and at risk of needing residential care.

  • Christchurch Methodist Mission’s Te Whare Tiaki is a supported residential care for kaumātua run on kaupapa Māori principles

  • Lifewise provides home care services supporting people to lead an independent life in their own home

  • Tamahere Eventide provide a range of services across two large sites, and a smaller site, including dementia care, occupation right agreements where there is profit sharing with the resident occupier.

Source: NZCCSS Te Kōrero mō ngā Kaumātua, 2022, p1

NZCCSS’ recent publication Te Kōrero mō ngā Kaumātua is an online resource designed to support understanding of the context of older people in Aotearoa, at a societal and structural level. It is a “resource for those wanting a considered introduction to a complex field – whether that be those who form the cohort, policymakers, the community, health and social services workforce, funders, families, the media, or anyone with a curiosity about this age stage. Gaining a better understanding of our older people – through resources such as this guide – means we are better able to value and support our kaumātua to thrive.  This work was also intended as a call to action, to generate interest and spark collaboration.”

They highlight gaps to be address which include:

  • Need to understand that not everyone 65+ is financially secure and that this will increase

  • Lack of free fully funded community activities and services for older people

  • Social isolation

  • Respite care not available or not appropriate, not available to book

  • Older disabled people do not have service specific options to age in place

  • People living longer means higher levels of dementia and other health conditions

  • Under-funded, under-resourced and stretched aged-care services

  • Lack of recognition of workforce – value of care

  • Post code lotteries for services

  • Spiritual dimension not being acknowledged or addressed in standard assessments

  • The cost of inaction and the crisis we seem to be walking into having not prepared for so long

The Methodist Alliance, is particularly concerned about the wellbeing of older people in Aotearoa, especially those with few assets. We as a church need to use our resources wisely and address this growing need and this will be the focus of our report to Conference 2023.

Carol Barron, National Coordinator

03 375 0512 | 027 561 9164 |

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