Call for councils to embrace elders

Council owned Smiths Farm (near Bethlehem) is earmarked for special housing.

A former aged care worker is probing local body councils to consider a role with aged care and retirement villages.

Gillian Cook says the suggestion cuts across the projection that Tauranga city will have an additional $100m debt in 10 years’ time.

“I think we could flip the debt on its head by councils partnering up with retirement village operators in building up assets plus it could learn to be a more embracing caring parent to our elders.”

Gillian is tasking councils through their national body LCNZ to ask the Minister of Seniors, Tracey Martin, to look at the adequacy of government funding toward the residential care facilities.

“Why is staff turnover endemically high in residential care facilities, is care being compromised and can a cross-over between the operation of the villages and the care facilities be made?

“Should the owners and shareholders of both have any different obligations than a single operator and what role can councils play that might benefit the elderly and the rate payer?” she says.

Gillian recently left her job providing activities at a rest home. She says staff turnover is high in the aged care industry globally, and Tauranga is no exception.

“Due to staff shortages it’s not uncommon for workers to do double shifts. Exhaustion from what is already a physical and mentally demanding job is also not uncommon.

“Personally, I’ve known of three facilities in Tauranga and the staff who paid for residents’ basic toiletries because there was nothing in the business kitty.

"And then there’s the village operations posting big profits.”

Gillian says floating the idea that a city council might be able to strike a better balance between residential care and villages, could be ‘pie in the sky’ given TCC’s operation of community housing in the past.

“That is another subject and yet another example where thinking outside the square to keep assets up to scratch, has not happened.”

Gillian has identified a council site that could be used to partner an experienced company.

“TCC may choose to simply be a shareholder but most importantly, on behalf of the people, it could take on the role of overseer.”

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