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Helping Hawke’s Bay’s older community


Around 45 local organisations have banded together to help older people in Hawke’s Bay get through the national COVID-19 lockdown – and it’s a relationship that looks set to continue well beyond the regional welfare response to the pandemic. 
Over the last few weeks, Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has linked up with community organisations and agencies to create a “network of networks” working collaboratively with the group to look after the welfare needs of the Hawke’s Bay community.
The network of networks encompasses all sectors, from the migrant community to children, Māori, Pasifika and older persons.
Kirstin Thompson, who leads the older persons network, said relationships have blossomed through the “network of networks” model.
“It’s been a beautiful blend of incredible, passionate people who care deeply about others and want to help,” Mrs Thompson said.
“We’re working together in a way we’ve never worked together before – and it’s a truly wonderful thing.”
Mrs Thompson said the COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways exacerbated existing issues for older people.
“Thousands of older New Zealanders have been physically cut off from their family members and friends, which can have long-lasting impacts on their emotional and physical wellbeing,” Mrs Thompson said.
“We needed to find a way to support our region’s older people, giving them appropriate advice and information, as well as providing food parcels or grocery shopping to those who needed welfare support.
“That’s where the “network of networks” model has worked so well – it has brought all the agencies and organisations involved in supporting our older community, to work together towards the best outcome for our people.”

Mrs Thompson said while older people are at highest risk from COVID-19, all of us, at all ages, needed to act in solidarity to protect each other.
“Supporting and protecting older people living alone in the community is everyone’s business, and all older people should be treated with respect and dignity during these times – that’s always been our philosophy, and we’ve held true to this throughout this response,” she said.
“If there’s a silver lining in all this, it’s that we now have a much better idea of the different groups out there and where they fit into the older persons space, the resources available, and the knowledge that we can all share to help our older community.
“This is a relationship we’ll definitely continue, long after this welfare response has ended.”
The organisations that make up the older persons network range from small community groups to regional branches of national agencies.
The network includes representatives from Presbyterian Support East Coast and Enliven, Age Concern, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, Manchester Unity and other friendly societies, aged residential care representatives, Access and other home health providers, the Ministry of Social Development, iwi groups, Red Cross and other food distribution providers, Waiapu Anglican Care and other respite day care providers, local authorities, and advocacy groups.

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6 May 2020

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