Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner says the number of registered nurses working in rest homes and aged care facilities has increased significantly since 2011 and is more than keeping pace with New Zealand’s growing need for dementia, hospital and psychogeriatric care.

“The number of registered nurses working in aged care increased by 22 per cent between 2011 and 2016, from 3405 to 4142.  That’s a greater increase than for the general registered nursing workforce, which grew by 13 per cent over the same period,” Ms Wagner says.

“The number of people receiving longer-term hospital level care — where most registered nurses are employed — increased by 17 per cent, while the total number of people receiving aged residential care increased by just 5 per cent.

“This tell us we’re staying ahead of population growth and the rising demand for these types of services.”

Ms Wagner says District Health Boards spend more than 40 per cent of their $12 billion budget on providing health and disability services to people aged 65 years and older. This age group makes up around 15 per cent of the population.

“Based on the forecast growth of this age group, this spend is expected to rise to 50 per cent of DHB expenditure by 2025/26,” Ms Wagner says.

“In the last six years, the total spent by DHBs for older people’s support services, including aged residential care, home support and hospital rehabilitation, has increased by 23 per cent or $302 million. The $1.6 billion spent in the year to last July represents 10 per cent of the Government's annual investment in health.

“New Zealanders are now living longer, healthier and increasingly independent lives, and the Government’s commitment to funding and supporting aged care services reflects that.”

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