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Independent Living for New Zealand Seniors October 10, 2018

As we age, decreasing mobility can make household tasks more difficult, and this can have an impact on living independently. However, there are now a myriad of options available, so living a self-determined life is definitely attainable.

Staying in your own home

This is a desirable option for many;  however some outside help may be required. It may be hard to know exactly what help you may require, and what services are available.

Government-funded support services

These services are run through the District Health Boards (DHBs) and can help you to:

  • maintain your independence and quality of life
  • stay in your own home for as long as you can
  • participate in your community.

Home Services

These are the most commonly used option, providing assistance tailored to the needs of the client. This can be a government-approved caregiver visiting at agreed times carrying out household tasks such as general housework, laundry and cleaning. Those with greater mobility issues may require help with showering, toileting, getting in and out of bed, and getting dressed.

If you are enjoying being independent, you can still access meals-on-wheels, companionship services or oversight care (weekly or fortnightly check-ups). Intensive household care may be available for those who need it. Occupational or rehabilitation specialists can make house calls to manage or restore acute conditions. Regardless of the severity of your ailments, services are normally free or significantly subsidised by the government.

To find out what help you might need and where to get it, start by asking your doctor. Their first-hand knowledge of your conditions and medical history will help them arrange appropriate assistance. This may be a district nurse visiting you at home providing care and treatment, while coordinating with your family doctor or hospital doctors to support you.

Most district nurses work for a local DHB, although some work for community trusts, primary health organisations or occasionally, a general practice or a commercial business. However, all are qualified and registered regardless of the organisation they are attached to. If you need help for longer, your doctor will arrange a needs assessment through the Needs Assessment Service Coordination team at your local DHB.

In many cases, these services are paid for by your local DHB. Acute cases caused by accidents are covered by the ACC. If your situation is not covered, you may need to pay for the service yourself. You can pay directly or from health insurance. Make sure to check that your policy will pay for nursing services in your home.

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