Marlborough District, New Zealand Positive Ageing Accord Action Plan
Status: In effect
Older people represent a significant and growing proportion of the Marlborough population. In the 2006 census 16% of the total population was aged 65 or over, a total of 6,876 people.
Growth in the 65+ demographic has consistently outstripped total population growth: between 2001 and 2006 the Marlborough population increase by 8% compared to 12% by the age group 65+. For the period 1991-2006, where the total population increased by 21% the group aged 65+ increased by 47%.
There are three principal drivers of the increasing age profile. One is transition of the "boomer" generation of people born between 1945 - 1960 into older age. The effects of this are only beginning to be fully registered - apart from the very significant increase in numbers that the boomer generation represents, this generation has had quite different lifestyle experiences (compared to the current cohort of older people) and it will effect their lifestyle choices, concerns and behaviours over the remainder of their lives.
A second factor is the improvements in population health and medical care that are enabling people to live longer, and to remain active for longer. The implications of this trend are also only beginning to show, with for example more people continuing to live independently, providing that they have access to suitable support and with some enhancements to their home.
Both these factors are being experienced internationally. Benchmarked against national statistics, Marlborough is however at the "leading edge" of these population changes: amongst Regional Councils our median age is the highest in the country (although several District Councils have a higher median age). This is partly a result of the underlying population base, but also the impact of the third factor, being the migration of older people and middle aged people into the district. The net affect of these factors is to create not only an increased number of older people in the community but a group of people for whom the experience of being aged will present quite differently from previous cohorts. These differences are likely to include higher rates of physical and economic activity, greater average affluence (but likely including greater inequalities of wealth and poverty), and higher expectations of service.
At the older edge of the cohort, distinct gender differences also begin to emerge. Women in the group 75+ significantly outnumber men and are more likely to present their own set of needs and aspirations.
Council has a number of programmes and services that are aimed at responding to the needs of older people which include Council's Older Persons Forum. The Forum requested that Council consider developing a policy that would align with the National Positive Ageing Strategy administered by the Office of Senior Citizens within the Ministry of Social Development. The aim of the National Positive Ageing Strategy is to improve opportunities for older people to participate in the community in the ways that they choose. It incorporates broad principles to guide the development of policies and services from a wide range of government and non government agencies and identifies key areas that contribute to positive ageing.
The strategy states that it strives for:
"A society where people can age positively, where older people are highly valued and where they are recognised as an integral part of families and communities. New Zealand will be a positive place in which to age when older people that say that they live in a society that values them, acknowledges their contributions and encourages their participation."
This vision is directly reflected in the community outcome identified in the 2006 Long Term Council Community Plan, of Marlborough being:
"A community where people can age positively, where older people are valued for their experience, wisdom and character, and where they are recognised as an integral part of families and communities."
After feedback from Council Older Person Forum members it was subsequently agreed to develop a Marlborough Positive Ageing Accord recognising that achieving positive outcomes for older people necessitated the commitment of multiple agencies and ultimately required a whole of community response. The Accord records the commitment of its members to achieving the highest possible quality of life for older people in Marlborough.
The document sets the context for ageing in Marlborough, including any particular issues, challenges or opportunities that have been identified, describes the purpose of the of the Accord and sets the principles and objectives. It also records the signatories to the Accord. A separate schedule identifies the particular actions that will be undertaken in the current period by the individual organisations and collectively.
In addition to those identified in the Accord, Council responds to positive ageing in the following ways:
- Provision of housing for the elderly.
- Provision of library services which includes responding to the particular needs of the elderly including large print, books, home bound services, talking books etc.
- Development of the Blenheim Bus Service - this was initiated by Council's Older Persons Forum.
- Council's Older Persons Forums held monthly to discuss issues in the community of particular interest or that have relevance to the positive ageing sector.
- Total Mobility Scheme.
- Rates Rebates