New Zealand’s population is ageing. An increasing proportion of people now feature in the older age groups with children and young adults declining in comparison. The result, according to Pacific Homecare Chief Executive Hamish Crooks, is that the gap between demand for health services and the available resources is widening.

Improvingwithage_1Workforces need to evolve and cater for the changing needs of the elderly, who are living longer and living better.

Speaking at the recent Pasifika Medical Association – Transformation Through Whanau Ora conference at Wellington, CEO of Pacific Homecare Hamish Crooks emphasises New Zealanders are living longer, but also living better.

By the late 2020s, NZ will have a million people aged 65 and over. That figure outnumbers children, and is a result of lower fertility, increased longevity and life expectancy due to advances in medical technology, increased survival rates from life-threatening diseases, and the movement of baby-boomers (born post World War II up until 1964) into the older age-groups.

The CEO says the care and support workforce – such as Pacific Homecare’s – is key to raising health sector productivity and ensuring a sustainable health system.

“Increasing their capability and productivity is internationally recognised as a significant solution to addressing the looming health workforce crisis,” Mr Crooks says.

“We must start building a new workforce today as the present system is unsustainable. New and innovative approaches and systems are essential.”

Improvingwithage_2Utilising and upskilling the “unregulated” workforce is vital if they are to meet future challenges.

Workforce initiatives have delivered improved literacy skills, staff engagement and improved the performance for Pacific Homecare. Initiatives include tailored training programmes recognising cultural diversity, celebrating employee success and cultural diversity.

“In 2011, less than 10% of our workforce had any formal qualifications, but by 2014 70% had Level 2 National Certificate in Home and Community Support Services, while 35% had Level 3 qualifications,” Mr Crooks says.

“Our workforce has dramatically upskilled. They know the client, their family and their community, they already provide more complex care and support and they work in teams to coordinate client care.”

He adds these new models of care represent great value for money – as the training time is relatively small, and costs are relatively low.

“Our values are the basis for the work we do each day. I want to encourage and remind all of our Support Workers that our work is significant, important and crucial for the communities we serve.”

For more information about Pacific Homecare services

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