The commissioned report on this research has just been published on the New Zealand Office for Seniors’ - Te Tari Kaumātua’s website.

New Zealand’s ageing population brings several challenges and opportunities to society. As with many countries around the world, one such challenge is the increased demand for expensive long-term formal care (or aged care). This is an issue that current models of care are presently struggling to accommodate, and cannot sustainably address in the future. In response to these issues the New Zealand government’s Positive Ageing Strategy highlights the need for new models, including the development of age friendly environments, and ageing in place.

Working to develop an effective model of aging in place, Dr Morgan and her colleagues designed and conducteded The “Arts-Based Delivery of An Innovative Model of Aged Care: Systematising and Disseminating the Virtual Eastern Bay Villages Model of Ageing in Place” research project. It was funded by the New Zealand Office for Seniors - Te Tari Kaumātua and conducted at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (University of Auckland), and in Whakatāne, the Eastern Bay of Plenty. This community and arts-based research sought to identify key features of the VEBV: TKM, a successful ageing in place initiative in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. A central aim of this research was to understand how the VEBV: TKM supported older people to be active participants in their own care, as opposed to passive recipients of services.

Dr Patricia Morgan, UNSW Ageing Futures Institute member, research associate with the University of Auckland, and senior research associate in the School of Population Health, UNSW, led the research project. Data collection involved an art and meditation workshop with VEBV: TKM members, and semi-structured interviews with workshop participants and VEBV: TKM board and coordinators. Findings from the project can be found in the Project Report and  the virtual exhibition: Aging in Place. Describing one of the central findings Dr Morgan said that:

“What sets the Virtual Eastern Bay Villages apart from many other community-based organisations working with older people is its emphasis on, and support of, members agency, skills, and experience, as opposed to service provision. Through the data analysis, 4 central themes were drawn from the participants interviews and the emphasis they put on factors important to them.

Whilst the details of each theme can be read in the full report, in general what was highlighted in findings was the understanding that:

  • While it is important to provide activities and individualised-information, equally is important is the creation, through the strong emotional labour and intelligence of all involved, of supportive, inclusive, kind cultures and in turn - environments for Aging in Place organizations.
  • Equitable governance systems, that reflect the context of the Aging in Place organization are important for healthy Aging in Place organizations.
  • Strengthening agency and resilience through the acknowledgment of members skills and experience, and the matching of members, related to their skills and needs, to provide mutual support..
  • Addressing members subjective internalised experience through sharing circles, and art and meditation practices, supports the development of members self-awareness, is relevant for healing, and important for the expansion of members personal limits or ‘rules’ sense of meaning in life, well-being, and life satisfaction.

For more information, please read the full report, and for your interest you may like to visit the Aging Well Together virtual exhibition.