Minister for Seniors Hon Dr Ayesha Verrallcongratulated the region on its coordinated approach to the issues facing the elderly when she visited Marlborough yesterday.
The Minister praised the Council’s Older Persons Forum for having “an organised seniors focus”. “The model you have is one I would like to see all through the country,” she said.
Mayor John Leggett welcome Minister Verrall to Marlborough along with a small group of representatives from the Council’s Older Persons Forum at the Council Chambers.
“These are difficult times. We see often the public face of our senior politicians but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes,” he said. The Mayor gave the Minister an overview of the region including that Marlborough has the highest number of 65+ per head of population in the country. “We really value our seniors,” he said.
Councillor Jenny Andrews, whose portfolio includes the Older Persons Forum, welcomed the Minister and outlined the background to the forum’s formation. This group was established in 1999 and meets monthly. Its successes include advocating for nurse practitioners, the local bus service and it dovetails in with the work of the mobility and access forum.
Minister Verrall is an infectious diseases doctor and also holds the portfolios of the Minister for Food Safety, Associate Minister of Health, and Associate Minister of Research, Science and Innovation. She outlined some of the Government’s focus when it comes to seniors including the ‘Better Later Life Strategy’ and work towards an Aged Care Commissioner. She hopes the latter will be in place by Christmas and will be a “watchdog and an advocate” for New Zealand’s elderly.
“We also want to do some policy work around senior entrepreneurship,” she said. New Zealand was, she said, already home to many senior entrepreneurs and was recently noted as having the most ‘senior’ bed and breakfast hosts in the world.
Members of the Older Persons Forum were able to ask the Minister questions and discussed issues of importance to this community, in particular concerns around mental health and dementia with people staying longer in their own home, the prevalence of loneliness amongst seniors and the challenges of modern technology. “I am always reminding my colleagues that not everyone can access digital technology,” she said.
The Minister visited Brayshaw Park and met with enthusiasts from the Vintage Car Club. She also visited Alzheimer’s Marlborough to present volunteers with a well-deserved Community or NGO Health Service Team ‘runner up for best volunteer award’, part of the 2021 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards announced in August.