Decade of Healthy Ageing

BY DAVID MARSHALL - National Vice President Grey Power NZ Federation INC.

I was privileged to represent Grey Power at this important Hui held in Auckland on 3 October. The purpose was to support a collaborative approach amongst key organisations to advancing the causes of older people during the UN Decade of Health Ageing.

Sponsored by the Selwyn Foundation, together with Age Concern NZ and the Office for Seniors, the meeting included representatives from a wide range of other organisations involved with older people throughout New Zealand.

Organisations as diverse as Health and Ageing Research Team Masey University, Māori Women’s Welfare League, the Eldernet Group, the Age Care Commissioner, Presbyterian Support and Haumaru Housing were represented.

Diane Turner (Office for Seniors) spoke to the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing Strategy and the link to our local Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumatua Strategy. She talked about some of the research work conducted at MSD to inform future policy, and the Office of Senior’s commitment to furthering initiatives to support older people. Key areas of action include:

  • Financial and economic security
  • Improved access to health and social services
  • Housing choices so people can age in the community
  • Improved social connections
  • Accessible built environments

A number of workshops evaluated what is currently available and what some of the priorities moving forward could be. A wide range of ideas were generated for future work and prioritisation including:

Health and Disability Policy for older people; Housing for older people; Collaboration to amplify our voice; Build and grow relationships across the sector; Socialisation programmes for older people; Homecare services; Combat ageism – work with media and employers; Stakeholder mapping; Briefing for incoming government; Advocacy; Loneliness Coalition and many more.

Next steps

The final session focused on next steps. This was a positive workshop where there emerged a strong commitment to work more collaboratively to optimise progress in achieving the goals of the Decade of Health Ageing. This was the case especially in the face of a government change that could be more resistant to investment in this area.

The Hui resulted in a collective commitment to develop an integrated strategy to improve the experience of ageing so that all older New Zealanders are respected, their needs prioritised and their ongoing contributions to society valued.

The Selwyn Foundation kindly offered to provide the backbone for this collaboration (including acting as the secretariat for the work programme). A Working Group on strategy was created with a commitment to meet via Zoom by the end of November. A draft media release was circulated and a final one was released a day later (See News item on Federation website.)

I see this as an important step forward in Grey Power’s collaboration with other organisations involved with older people, so together we can share research and case studies to strengthen the effectiveness of our advocacy work on behalf of all older people.

Related: Health Reforms and Community Needs – Are they Compatible?

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