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Accessing Older Persons' Services

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Aged residential care and home based support are available depending on your needs. Each is discussed below.


Assessing Your Needs

Often ageing people are less able to live independently and require some form of support.  If you are not coping well you should visit your Doctor to discuss any concerns.   This often helps as your GP knows a lot about your general health and can assist with referral for an assessment.  
Supportlinks is the local organisation in MidCentral which provides needs assessment and service coordination (NASC) services for people with disabilities.  If you live in Tararua a needs assessment can also be requested from Tararua Health Group on Barraud Street, Dannevirke.
To be eligible for an assessment to access public funding a person  must have a disability as defined by the Ministry of Health:
“. . . a person with a disability is a person who has been identified as having a physical, intellectual, sensory or age-related disability (or a combination of these), and which is likely to continue for a minimum of six months and results in a reduction of independent function to the extent that ongoing support is required . . .”
People are not eligible for funded disability support if:
  • they have a short-term illness or personal health need
  • they require support for less than six months
  • they are funded under ACC
  • they have needs solely as a result of a mental health condition - these assessments are usually contracted for by MOH through mental health assessment services or community mental health teams.
  • People who are not a New Zealand resident


Referrals can be made by a client, their family/whanau members, GP, other health professionals, disability support groups and organisations or a friend.  Please see contact details below - office hours are 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday:
1st Floor RATA Building
Community Village
Palmerston North Hospital
50 Ruahine Street
Palmerston North
Call free: 0800 221 411
Email: Supportlinks
It is essential that consent from the client or their legal representative e.g. Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) is obtained prior to making a referral.  A referral needs to include sufficient information to determine eligibility.  If for any reason a referral is unable to be actioned you and/or the person who has made the referral will be advised in writing and if possible information will be provided on alternative avenues of support.
When a referral has been accepted you will be contacted to arrange a suitable time for an assessment.  It is your choice if you wish to include family/whanau or other support people to be present at the assessment.
An assessor will visit you to gather information about your needs.  After the assessment a service coordinator will contact you to discuss identified needs and potential support options.  Some of the options identified may include funded support for particular activities.  Where this is so, we will advise you on the limitations of that support and the criteria that apply.

What is a needs assessment?

The purpose of a needs assessment is to gather relevant information about an older person’s current abilities, resources, goals and needs.  The assessment is client centred and comprehensive.  We look at what you can do and what you have difficulty with, including mobility, memory, safety round the home, the support of others and so on.

If you have a carer we also look at their needs related to the support they provide for you. 
Needs assessors work in partnership with the older person and where appropriate their partners or significant others.  Supportlinks welcomes the support of family/whanau for their older family member during the assessment.

What is service coordination?

Service coordinators have wide knowledge of all options including public, private, voluntary and community services.
Your service coordinator will advise which of your needs can be met by publicly funded services and will also consider ways of meeting needs which cannot be covered by these services.
Once your support plan is agreed, the service coordinator will work with service providers, contracted to MidCentral District Health Board, to put your supports in place and send you a letter to confirm this.


Your services will be reviewed at least annually to make sure that the supports are in place and working well for you.  If not, the service coordinator will recommend an adjustment or if your needs or circumstances have changed a reassessment will be arranged.
You can also initiate a review or reassessment at any time by contacting the service to arrange a reassessment, a review of your supports, or talk about ways to make things work better for you.

Other information and advice

Supportlinks endeavours to provide professional and competent assessors and service coordinators who have experience working with older people and understand their needs. 
Please do tell us if you have a particular cultural requirement e.g. interpreter, translator etc.
You have the right to access all information arising from your assessment and service plan.  Your privacy and confidentiality will be respected. 
If you have any concerns regarding your assessment or service coordination, then you may ask for a review.  Please express your concerns to your Assessor/ Coordinator in the first instance.  If the concern is unable to be resolved, then please contact the manager.
If you are dissatisfied with our service, you may contact any of the following:
Health and Disability Commissioner
Nationwide Health & Disability Advocacy Service
Free Phone: 0800 555 050
Health & Disability Commissioner
National Free Phone: 0800 11 22 33
NASC Policy Guidelines

Everyone should have Enduring Power of Attorney

An enduring power of attorney is a document where you appoint who you would like to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to.
People think their family will take over if they are no longer able to manage their own affairs or that their Will would come into effect.  Unfortunately this isn't true.
That's why we recommend you appoint someone as your enduring power of attorney, so that you have peace of mind knowing a person you trust will be making important decisions for you when you're not able to.
The key thing with the law is the person who accepts the role as an enduring power of attorney has to show that they have taken an interest in that person in actively ensuring their welfare is taken care of.
Alternative contact details are:
The Office for Senior Citizens, Ministry of Social Development
PO Box 1556
New Zealand.
Phone: 64 4 916 3758.
Age Concern and Public Trust are two other organisations that have information regarding Enduring Power of Attorney.  Contact details are available in your local telephone book.
MidCentral District Health Board assists older people to continue to live safely and independently in the community.   
Supportlinks will work with you and your family to help you make the best decisions about your health and wellbeing.  The assessment will identify your needs and focus on maintaining your abilities as well as identifying areas of support you may require.
Funded support services are intended to provide support for an older person to manage their essential activities of daily living.  The agency you select to work with you will develop a flexible plan to support your needs.  They will let us know how you are getting on as it may be necessary to adjust your support plan as your goals are achieved or your situation changes.  You will be involved with these decisions.
Regular reviews will help to ensure you have the appropriate support to maintain maximum independence and functioning.
If you are eligible the options for funded support may include:
  • Household assistance
  • Personal care
  • Day programmes, (non-therapeutic)
  • Carer support
  • Residential care and support

Please note: one of the criteria for obtaining household support is to have a current Community Services Card.  If support with household tasks is your only need and you do not have a Community Services Card you may be required to fund this.  We will advise you if this applies in your case before arranging this particular service.

Referrals may also be made to other support services relevant to your needs, for example, Meals on Wheels (which are partially funded by MidCentral District Health Board), Community organisations/Support groups such as Parkinsons Society, Stroke Foundation, Age Concern, Friendship Centre.


Aged Residential Care

Residential care is usually a last resort and only considered if support options to remain living at home are not successful.  Not all levels of care are available in each town in the MidCentral area. 
A Needs Assessor and/or specialist clinician determine the right level of care a person needs.  The decision about which facility to choose is left with the older person and their family/whanau. 
There are four categories of rest homes catering for different levels of care:
  1. Rest home care, the entry level for many people
    2. Dementia care, for those who require a semi-secure facility
    3. Hospital continuing care, for those who require increased levels of nursing support in a rest home facility
    4. Psychogeriatric care, for people with very high and complex needs
A full list of all aged residential care facilities in the MidCentral district and current vacancies is available on
Respite care and day care in rest homes are useful options to give full time carers a break from looking after the older family member.  The residential facilities that provide these support options are also listed on the eldernet site.

Income/Asset Testing

An older person entering residential care may be eligible for a residential care subsidy or residential care loan. Work & Income New Zealand complete an income and asset test to determine this.  If a residential care subsidy is approved part of the person’s superannuation also contributes to the cost of residential care. If a person exceeds the asset and/or income criteria, they may need to pay for all or part of their care. The eligibility thresholds change each year and thus families need to check regularly. Rest Homes are also obligated to advise when these changes occur.
For more information contact the specialised processing department of Work and Income on 0800 999 727 or or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Useful Links

HOPE e-learning tools for dementia, depression, anxiety and personality disorders

The HOPE e-learning tool provides real-time information and practical learning for anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of the mental health issues faced by older people.
It includes learning topics on dementia, depression, anxiety and personality disorders, which can affect older people. It also offers a range of learning tools relating to gerentology.
Although created by clinicians for clinicians who specialise in working with older people, the HOPE e-learning tools have been designed so anyone can easily use them to learn about these topics.

​Document Format

Most documents are available in Acrobat (PDF) format. Some documents are also available in other formats (doc, xls, html etc.) or as a printed version (hard copy). Please note, due to cost, a different format or printed version may not be available.

To request a different format or printed version, please contact the Te Whatu Ora Health NZ - MidCentral Communications Unit.

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Send a message to a patient at a MidCentral facility.

General information about Palmerston North Hospital.