Globally, demand for aged care and retirement accommodation is sky-rocketing.
Our own District Council’s demographic statistics say there will be a 52 percent growth in over-65s living in the Far North in the next 10 years, with a quadrupling of those over 85 in the next 20 years. These rates are way above the national average.
The clear expectation in the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Ageing Strategy of December 2016 is that aged care providers and local government will meet the need for retirement accommodation and aged care.
The “and local government” part is key. Council must bring some focus to this issue, fast, or it will overwhelm our community infrastructure.
We are playing our part. This month we are outlining to the community our plans to cater for this demand. We anticipate that Kerikeri Retirement Village alone must triple the number of independent living units it offers and increase the number of care beds to 100 over the next 10 years.
There is significant social and economic upside to this ‘silver tsunami’ for our District, if only we can harness it. Job creation (64 employees for every 100 independent living units, education and training (to meet the sector’s employment needs) and GDP growth fed by construction and a growing population are all pluses.
How will the Far North react to this tsunami? Will we ‘mend and make do’ simply to survive the wave? Or will we surf it and make the most of the ride?