Responding to the needs of older people.
Subject: Aged (Care and treatment)
Nursing care (Management)
Pub Date: 10/01/2010
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Oct, 2010 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 9
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 241179352
Full Text: One of the busiest people at the DHB after the 'quake was director of nursing for older persons' health, Kathy Peri. A response team focused on co-ordinating health and support services for older people in Canterbury was very quickly established.

Around 100 residents from badly affected aged-care facilities had to be moved to other rest-homes with spare capacity, and a temporary respite care unit for frail elderly people living alone and not coping with the lack of facilities or their medical disabilities was established in an empty ward at Princess Margaret Hospital, practically overnight. Some elderly people facing more social issues were also accommodated at Windsor House rest-home. Referrals to these short-term beds were through GPs and via the community welfare centres. Many of the staff assigned to these areas were volunteers from outside Canterbury.

"The response throughout Canterbury to the plight of the elderly was immediate," said Peri. "Due to the need to evacuate some residents from damaged rest-homes, a decision was made to put a hold on all new rest-home admissions. It was a credit to the industry as a whole that the commercial operators understood the situation and cooperated in every way they could. Having the support from the 'quake nurses', as they came to be known, and health care assistants from the North Island was also fantastic. The Last to leave the respite ward were nurses from the West Coast who had lived through about 800 aftershocks. They became part of our community and, in the end, they did not want to leave."

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Peri also led the exit of residents from Avonview and Kate Sheppard rest-homes and accompanied Health Minister Tony Ryall on an official visit to the Avonview site. "Nurses from the older persons' health service needed to reassess these residents, who were then moved in clusters to new facilities. It broke my heart to see these older people being moved but they were also grateful to go somewhere with some semblance of normality. Families had no choice about where their relatives were moved to. I expect there will be some reshuffling in the coming weeks and months."

Now that the moratorium on rest-home admissions has been Lifted, all beds in the Canterbury region are full, with families sending relatives in for respite care.

Nurses and health services had now entered the recovery phase, Peri said. However, knowing quite what this might mean was somewhat problematic. "The whole community is grieving for what it has lost, be that familiar buildings, or lives turned upside down. Where I Live in the Sydenham/Beckenham area, whole sides of some streets have gone. You go into town to find your favourite shop and discover it has been bulldozed. We all have to face these realities and deal with them, being kind to each other along the way. My children seemed to cope well the first couple of weeks; now they are afraid of being at home on their own because of not knowing what to expect. We are all doing the best we can, checking on our neighbours and supporting each other."
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