In Western Austrialia the State Governement are championing the construction of ‘Medihotels’ to address their shortage of respite beds across the state. ‘Medihotels’ being specialist hotels designed to support patients who are discharged from hospital but are still recovering.
They are not a new idea – several Medihotels are successfully run in Victoria and Queensland, but on a much smaller scale than the WA plan. The first one in WA is being built in Perth. The integrated precinct will include the 60-room ‘hotel’ plus a 150-bed aged care facility both run by Australian aged care provider Aegis; plus a ‘super’ medical clinic, short-stay accommodation and residential apartments.
The Austrialian Government says the hotels will free up more hospital beds – an estimated 54 a day – so that more people can be treated and cut costs too. An overnight stay in a ‘hotel’ will be between $120 and $200 – compared for $1,800 or more for a hospital. Elderly patients will also be able to be visited by nurses, physiotherapists and other health professionals as well as family and friends – a welcome comfort when you are recovering from illness.
Could this work in New Zealand?
With the Healthy Ageing Strategy aiming to keep people in their homes for as long as possible, the need for respite services will increase. Respite is designed to provide short-term breaks for carers, while also providing a positive, stimulating and worthwhile experience for the older person.
The Ministry of Health has recently reviewed respite and published “Transforming Respite: Disability Support Services Respite Strategy 2017 to 2022”. The main findings indicated that finding suitable support workers or respite services is the main barrier to families/whānau making use of their respite allocation. Finding support workers in rural areas and smaller towns is a particular challenge.
Currently, some respite providers have limited resources to fund capital projects or invest in service development. There has been very limited respite service development in recent years, partially because of the lack of attractiveness to providers of the current respite models. Some smaller providers are running popular and innovative respite services using Carer Support payments and community grant funding. This shows what can be achieved with the right attitude and with community support.
So, maybe it is time for a new approach to respite! The government will have to review how they fund the service to make sure it allows for older people to remain living at home for longer by supporting the people who care for them. Maybe we could be looking across the ditch for ideas…