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Caring for the cultural needs of elderly Maori

Looking at ways of improving disability services is something CCS Disability Action is always striving to do to help the community.

At a Karanga Maha ki Tairawhiti Maori Disability conference, CCS opened the floor to hear thoughts on what more can be done to help people (and their whanau) living with a disability.

In some cases it started with simple changes, such as the language and terminology used in the disability sector, said Katie Mackey of CCS Disability Action Tairawhiti.

“We are changing the language that we use. Rather than say ‘client’ or ‘caregiver’ we prefer to use terms that reflect supporting our people — ‘kaiawhina’ or ‘support worker’.”

One of the key issues raised was the increase in the number of elderly Maori who are either living in rest homes or receiving care in their own home.

“Our aged community is increasing, and they want to stay home more and receive support through Life Unlimited.

“Twenty years ago it was very rare to see Maori in rest homes. Now that number is increasing.

“It’s a huge thing culturally for Maori to take that step to go into rest homes because as whanau we think that we’re supposed to look after them at home.

“The best thing we can all do is support kaumatua (elderly) by keeping them active in the community.”

One support worker, who helps in rest homes, said these types of environments were a cultural contrast to what many kaumatua were accustomed to.

More support was needed to cater to their cultural needs, she said.

“There is a big need for company for our Maori residents in the homes — to korero Maori.

“I know of two ladies who meet now and again and korero with each other, but other than that, they have no contact with anyone speaking the reo.

She said they felt lonely; their cultural needs weren’t being met in the homes.

“There’s a big gap there. They’re totally lost because they’re not in their own home with whanau.”

  1. Debbie Sunckell, Rangiora says:

    What are the cultural requirements when caring for elderly Maori?