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UK expert says help people re-learn skills for everyday life

Sep 2, 2011

New Zealand Home Health Association media release 3 August 2011

A United Kingdom expert says the best way to assist people who have had poor health is to help them re-learn the skills necessary for everyday life.

Gerald Pilkington is a keynote speaker at a conference for home health providers being held in Wellington this week.

The New Zealand Home Health Association (NZHHA) represents 48 organisations which provide healthcare, personal care and support for sick, elderly and disabled people living in their own homes.

The theme of the conference is Fronting Up.

Mr Pilkington helped to set up home care re-ablement in England, as part of the UK Department of Health's Care Services Efficiency Delivery (CSED) team.

"It is a form of support provided in the home to help people regain and maximise their independence. It's for people who mainly need social care.  Re-ablement support is designed to help them do as much as they can themselves rather than relying on others." Mr Pilkington says, historically, social care has taken over activities that a person can no longer undertake, thereby creating a dependency on others.

"Home care re-ablement is about helping people 'to do', rather than having things 'done to' or for them. Evidence shows that timely bursts of homecare re-ablement, focusing on skills for daily living, can enable people to live more independently."

He says homecare re-ablement requires a shift in mindset.

"We are facing a major issue in terms of both demographic growth and financial pressure. We have to find new ways of working."

Mr Pilkington says evidence shows that the new approach is working in the UK.

"If people are given conventional homecare, 95 percent of them will continue with it for the rest of their lives. But after just six weeks of homecare re-ablement, almost half the people will still be independently helping themselves two years later."

"Most countries now face the pressures of a greater demand for health care. The number of people over 65 will grow dramatically over the coming years so even if we had enough funding we wouldn't have enough staff to cope."

In England, social care is the responsibility of local councils and 149 out 152 are now using the home care re-ablement service, which Mr Pilkington says is not just about saving money.

"People have expressed a desire to retain their independence for as long as possible and for their support to be personalised to meet their specific needs.  Helping people re learn the skills of everyday life meets both these desires."

Some New Zealand District Health Boards have introduced a similar 'restorative home support' model, which is designed to support people to manage their daily lives and become as independent as possible rather than become reliant on support workers doing things for them. 

NZHHA Chief Executive, Julie Haggie, says the conference will address critical issues for the home health sector. "As a larger proportion of our citizens age, networks and services in the community will need to be strong so we can be supported to live for longer, where we want to live."

Other keynote speakers at the conference include Dr Rod Watts from Presbyterian Support, who will talk about results-based accountability; Chai Chuah, Director of the National Health Board who will talk about key health trends and new models of care; Tania Thomas, Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner (Disability), who will talk about what it takes to be consumer-centered, and Phillippa Smith, Deputy Auditor General, who will talk about the recently released performance audit on home based support services for the elderly. 

There will also be presentations on health service inequalities for Maori who experience dementia, how health services responded to the Canterbury earthquake, as well as a look at some exciting new developments in homecare in New Zealand - including presentations on intensive home support for people leaving hospital after surgery or illness.

For further information, or to talk to Gerald Pilkington, contact NZHHA CEO Julie Haggie on 0274 989 126.

If Julie is not available, contact Neil Maitland on 021 944 448 or Gay Maitland on 021 446 809.

What:                    NZHHA annual conference, with theme Fronting Up
When:                  Wednesday 3 to Friday 5 August 2011
Where:                 Conference floor, level 16, James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel, Wellington

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