Age-Phobia

Judith Davey

I have written several blogs on age discrimination, which often strikes on an individual basis – older people being passed over for jobs; being patronised as “lovey” and “dear” and generally being seen as a stereotype rather than as a mature and experienced individual.

What I am calling “age-phobia” is much more high level and generalised. One good example is a quote from the Sydney Morning Herald:

The ramifications (if ageing) could be serious as the elderly become an additional burden to the traditional scourges of poverty and disease. [1] –

How does it feel to be compared to malaria or the Ebola virus? I was hoping that this attitude had lessened since 2002. But, I wonder? Recently someone referred me to a recent TV programme with Nigel Latta. This was “Getting Old: The Retirement Bomb” (9 August, TV1) in the Nigel Latta Hard Facts series. So I duly signed on for TV on Demand and watched it on my lap-top (my TV not being “smart”). It began with Nigel Latta being made up to look like himself as a “really old” man of 70 (he is about 50 now). He recoiled in horror at the bald head, the straggly grey hair and the lined face – in truth the face was more like that of a 100 year- old than any 70-year-old I know. The message was; we don’t want to think about getting old because it is so horrific; we will become ugly and repellent. Then we saw old people lolling around in boats in the sunshine, enjoying a life of dependence on younger generations. But some of those interviewed were actually saying positive things about their lives. This was greeted with amazement by Latta and the children he co-opted to help his cause, probably prompted. To be fair, with the help of the Retirement Commissioner, he was making the point that younger people have to think about their old age and plan for it. But, in the course of this, I feel that he stoked up inter-generational competition, if not outright antagonism, saying how the baby boomers will suffer from the excessively generous policies enjoyed by older cohorts. Age-phobia? Do you agree?

I have just read a recent book by Ben Bova (a favourite science fiction writer of mine, now in his early eighties). It is called “Transhuman.” It is set in the USA and features a biochemist who develops a treatment to reduce cell ageing and to cure cancer. The FBI and even the US President, urged on by the Treasury, tries their best to block his work, to the extent of locking him and his colleagues up in a military base in the Arizona desert. This is because the innovation will allow everyone to live to 100, 120 or even 150. It will, according to the powers that be, “bankrupt America” in health services and health insurance costs. Of course the elite – selected people, including themselves- will benefit, but not the masses. The protagonist manages to escape and distributes his findings to numerous scientific publications, to my relief. I was expecting the FBI to assassinate him. It may be a feasible scenario based on age phobia and the assumption that old age inevitably brings with it dependence and disability.

Sure, there is a lot more acknowledgement these days of the opportunities inherent in an ageing population, and of the contribution which older people can make, economically and socially. But age phobia is not dead. It rears its head with every mention of demeaning words used for older people – wrinklies, grey-hairs, geezers, codgers, fossils and fogeys – even elderly comes with connotations of frailty and dependence. And the very worst that I have heard -“pre-dead”.

To watch the episode “Getting Old: The Retirement Bomb”, visit https://www.tvnz.co.nz/ondemand/the-hard-stuff-with-nigel-latta/09-08-2016/series-2-episode-2

[1] Jerome Socolovsky, Greying of humanity a threat to world budgets. Sydney Morning Herald, April 8, 2002.

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Using income and assets in retirement; Decumulation – the sequel

Judith Davey

Income and Assets in Retirement

On average, the incomes of older people are low and, once they have left the paid workforce, they have few ways to augment them. In a recent survey, the CFFC found that almost half of the people in the 60-64 age group expected that New Zealand Superannuation would be their main source of income in retirement. The majority – 77% – were concerned about living longer than their savings. Thus it is important for retired people to manage their income and assets well. Few have accumulated much over and above the equity in their homes and lump sums on the maturity of superannuation or insurance schemes. KiwiSaver will become increasingly important in this respect. However, many have income from savings in various forms, which can be used to supplement superannuation and to provide a nest egg for large and unexpected expenditures.

As well as credits, there are debits. More people will be entering retirement with outstanding debts. It has become easier to accumulate debt through credit cards, flexible mortgages and student loans, creating a culture where debt becomes a norm. This is important, because repayments reduce the ability to save and make it more difficult to manage on a reduced retirement income.

Options for decumulation
As I mentioned earlier, the mobilisation of assets to improve retirement incomes needs to be considered.

Releasing home equity
Given high levels of mortgage-free home ownership, mobilising capital tied up in houses is an option for many people. There are various ways to do this:

• “Down-size” – move to a cheaper house or a retirement village
• Rent out part of the home or take in paying boarders
• Subdivide the property or use it more intensively
• Sell and move into rented accommodation; the attractiveness of this will depend on how the amount of rent paid compares with the return on (re)-investing capital from the sale of the house
• Sell the home to family or whanau (possible through a loan repaid from the estate)
• Use a commercial equity release product, usually a reverse mortgage in New Zealand (see my June 2014 blog)
• Take out a standard loan secured against a house, but this will incur repayments of interest and/or capital.

Investment options
Outright decumulation means drawing down regularly until capital is exhausted by the expected date of death. But investment for returns in the form of interest and dividends may be a better option. As well as bank term deposits and government bonds, there are also a range of multi- and single sector managed funds and bonds. Investment portfolios may be self-managed or managed by a professional. One possibility is to leave funds in a KiwiSaver account, as recommended by Mary Holm, even after the account has matured. Many KiwiSaver schemes have diversified investment funds and lower fees than other funds. Depending on the provider, money can sometimes be taken out of such funds on a regular basis.

Annuities
Annuities are a way of turning retirement savings, or lump sums from superannuation or life insurance plans, into a regular income. In return for a large deposit, regular payments are made, which can be a fixed amount or variable, and may continue for a set number of years, or until the annuitant dies. The amount payable depends on the remaining life expectancy of the annuitant at the start of the contract (estimated from mortality rates) and the amount of lump sum available.

Annuities remove the need to manage and invest savings, which may be a source of anxiety for some older people. A lifetime annuity reduces the fear that money will run out, but regular payments may be smaller than for a fixed term annuity. These advantages must be set off against the risk that the annuitant may die early in retirement, before substantial benefit has been received, although some annuity plans offer a guaranteed payout period, with continuing payments to the estate.

Despite the advantages, the annuity market is not well developed in New Zealand, although new products are appearing, such as Lifetime Retirement Income (http://www.lifetimeincome.co.nz/). Barriers to the development of an annuities come from both the demand and supply sides. Some are attitudinal – unfamiliarity with the concept and lack of understanding of how annuities work; distrust of financial service providers; the wish to preserve assets for unforeseen events or for bequest. Potential providers have been discouraged by the small size of the local market, uncertainty of future mortality trends and high capital requirements. Further barriers arise from government policies, including tax settings; annuity payments affecting eligibility for means-tested benefits and supplementary assistance; and lack of guarantees regarding the financial security of the annuity provider. In some countries there has been compulsory annuitisation of maturing retirement funds. This could be applied to KiwiSaver.

Inheritance as a retirement lump sum
Finally, as people live longer, inheritances, mainly from sale of the family home, may provide retirement lump sums for “children’ in their sixties.

[1] Commission for Financial Capability – http://www.cffc.org.nz/reviewretirementincomepolicy/may/decumulation-what-we-found

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Decumulation and the three Ds

Judith Davey

In a previous blog I mentioned the current Review of Retirement Income Policy. Among its terms of reference is the requirement to look at “decumulation and how retirees manage their assets”. Decumulation – it is not even in my Shorter Oxford Dictionary or thesaurus. The nearest term is “decumbiture” which means taking to one’s bed! Webster’s, as usual is more up to date and calls it the “disposal of something accumulated”. It is an important consideration for people in retirement.

What does decumulation mean in the context of retirement?

Economists have a model, supposedly reflecting rational action, which shows people accumulating assets throughout their working lives and then “decumulating” in retirement, using up their wealth before they die. Does this reflect actual behaviour? Do the last few dollars pay for the trip to the cemetery ? As someone once said to me; “There are no roof-racks on hearses”. Why is behaviour and financial planning less than rational? For several reasons – procrastination is a big one; time-cost and hassle. Many people prefer not to contemplate eventualities such as the need for long-term care and death.

Uncertainties make it difficult to plan.

Uncertainty about longevity
People do not know how long they are going to live. Life expectancy at birth is lower than life expectancy at 65, as not everyone survives to that age. How long must capital last and how much is needed to provide a retirement income and support an acceptable standard of living?

Uncertainty about needs
How will needs change in retirement and what costs might increasing frailty bring? This question encourages people to keep their resources for a “rainy day’. Will children be willing and able to provide care? What will the state provide and at what cost to me? The elective surgery system may not respond in a timely manner and the cost of dental care, hearing and eye-sight aids can be very high.

Uncertainty about the adequacy of New Zealand Superannuation (NZS)
Can we rely on this as we look to the future?

The wish to bequeath
Attitudes to inheritance have a huge influence on whether or how people decumulate. If we are keen on leaving a substantial amount to our children then we will be unwilling to make inroads into our assets. On the other hand, I have found in my research that many older people agree that their children are comfortable and don’t need to inherit; that it is better to use their assets to help them in their old age (referred to in a June 2014 blog).

Effective management of income and assets in retirement

The second D is “Decisions” with the emphasis on making good decisions.

Planning to provide an adequate level of income for retirement requires an understanding of a number of relatively complex variables and their interactions. Some of these may be certain or controllable, such as retirement age, superannuation contribution rates or investment strategy. Others are uncertain and not directly controllable including lifespan, level of health and accrual investment returns [1].

We have to understand these variables. Then we have to explore our options (which I will look at in a later blog). Then come the decisions. And what do we need to make good decisions?

Financial information and education
There are few opportunities for New Zealanders in or approaching retirement to improve their financial literacy or to prepare in other ways for later life.

Better advice on financial management
There is information on web-sites, such as sorted.org.nz, and the Consumer Institute publishes articles for people seeking financial advice. Information backed by trusted community organisations and interest groups representing older people is likely to be more influential than information which might be commercially slanted.

Better consumer protection
Older people may be vulnerable to “hard sell”, bemused by technical complexity and drawn in by the promise of high returns, as seen in recent years. Many have been taken in by professional advisers and suffered financial loss. This emphasises the importance of policies to improve consumer protection.

Protection against financial abuse
Older people often do not report financial abuse because they are embarrassed, especially if the perpetrator is a family member, which is often the case (see blogs in second half of 2014). New Zealand elder abuse services have difficulty coping with demand and providing adequate coverage throughout the country. We need to develop effective prevention and intervention in this field.

The third D – Diversity

There is a huge diversity in the expectations and attitudes of older people – towards retirement and towards how they want to use whatever financial assets they have available. These attitudes will vary over time, subject to a wide variety of influences, not least a lifetime of experience. Should people expect the same standard of living in retirement as they have had in their working lives? In the past, reduced living standards in old age were seen as inevitable. Now and in the future, expectations may be higher. Older people are fitter and keener to maintain active lifestyles which generates a demand for higher incomes. Decisions on decumulation may determine whether we can realise such expectations in all their diversity.

 

[1] Blight, P. and Longden, D. (September 2007) The next generation retirement income streams. Paper presented at the Institute of Actuaries of Australia Biennial Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Older people as caregivers – a new report from Massey University

Judith Davey

August 2016

Unpaid caring work is an essential part of our society; without it the demands which could be placed on government-provided services – and the taxpayer – would be unsustainable.

But such work is undervalued and under acknowledged. It has always been difficult to get information about unpaid caring work from the New Zealand Census, in fact there was a proposal for the questions on “activities” to be dropped from the 2018 individual census form (this received a large number of submissions in favour of keeping them).

So, it was good to see a short report from Massey University’s Health, Work and Retirement Study – The Characteristics and Experiences of Older New Zealand Caregivers (July 2016, see hart.massey.ac.nz). These were people aged 55 to 79 who had indicated in the 2013 postal survey, that they had provided practical assistance to a person with a long-term condition, disability or frailty in the previous year. The number in the sample was not great (168), but the information throws light on what caregiving can mean in this age group.

As might be expected, two-thirds of the caregivers were female and well over half were retired or not in the paid workforce. Almost half of the people being cared for were partners or spouses, with the next highest category parents or in-laws – from which we can imply older people; only 9% cared for a child. This fits with the fact that the need for help had been a gradual transition for most people, linked to increasing frailty. Over half the care recipients lived with their caregiver. The majority provided care on a daily basis.

The most frequently provided forms of care related to everyday needs such as shopping for groceries, preparing meals, transportation, doing laundry and managing money (such as paying bills and keeping track of expenses). For some of these there was extra help from paid or voluntary supporters. Family/whanau, community health, ambulance and respite services were reported as having provided the most helpful assistance.

The really interesting part of the report is the findings on the impact which caregiving was having on the caregivers’ lives – 40% found it positive, 30% neutral and 30% negative. Those finding it positive were more likely to be male and providing fewer care hours per week. Those who were better off reported more positive value in the caregiving role as did those with better health, greater life satisfaction and less loneliness. This made me think of the situation of an older woman, in poor health herself and living on NZS only, caring for her ailing husband, unable to get out much and receiving very little public sector support. I know women in this situation and probably you do too. What can be done for them?

Many of the younger caregivers were still in paid work. They reported using unpaid leave, sick leave or annual leave to provide care when needed. Often this involved a crisis situation. The findings mirror those which we found in a study of working carers, which Sally Keeling and I carried out in 2004, and in similar studies done in the UK [1]. I would like to think that this research and submissions made based on it, helped to influence legislative change. Legislation from 2008 brought in the right for people who had caring responsibilities to request flexible work arrangements (later extended to all workers, but still at the discretion of employers). However, in the 2013 Massey research only a quarter of the working carers were aware of this right. Flexible work arrangements that are accessible, and perhaps dedicated carers’ leave allocations, are not as widespread as they should be. Sympathetic employers and co-workers are not the norm, as we found earlier.

This research has implications for public policy. It shows that caregiving can be a positive experience for older people, provided that caregivers are given appropriate and sufficient support. The trend towards ageing in place, supported by health policies and receiving more emphasis through the draft revised Health of Older People Strategy, means that many more very old people, with high levels of dependency, will be cared for in the community by family members. This burden will fall especially on women. Female caregivers have been found to receive less informal assistance and to have fewer resources to call upon, including income and wealth, than their male counterparts. This might call for better income support and financial assistance for people in this situation. Older caregivers also need help to maintain their own social networks and activities and thus to offset loneliness and social isolation. This calls for better provision of respite care and home support services.

Among my friends we have jokingly talked about a stage in women’s lives which may be called “ailing men.” But this is a real and sometimes unenviable situation. The role of caregiver to frail and disabled older people applies not only to women, of course, all people in this situation deserve recognition and help, as their numbers are bound to grow and we cannot allow their situation to worsen.

 

 

[1] Davey, J. and Keeling, S. (2004) Combining work and Eldercare: a study of employees in two City Councils who provide informal care for older people. Future of Work Report, Department Of Labour, Wellington

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Should the age of eligibility for superannuation be raised?

Judith Davey

July 2016

This year you have a chance to put your views forward.

Under the Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001, the Retirement Commissioner[1] is required to review retirement income policies every three years. 2016 is one of those years. The terms of reference for this review[2] cover the sustainability of New Zealand Superannuation (NZS) settings, while not specifically mentioning the age of eligibility.

The last review, in 2013, recommended raising the age – not to a specific age, but in line with increases in average life expectancy. This seemed a sensible proposal, once you can get your mind around it, but it received no favour from government. It would keep constant the average proportion of life during which NZS would be paid and would make NZS more fair and sustainable[3].

When the first New Zealand age pension was introduced in 1893 the age of eligibility was 65. It is at this same age today, even though life expectancy has risen substantially. So the average person is receiving retirement income support for much longer and we expect life expectancy to keep on rising. The review team calculated that, even with an eligibility age of 68, today’s 25-year-olds would receive NZS for longer than people who are now aged 85 plus (who had an eligibility age of 60). Countries a lot richer than New Zealand have increased the age of eligibility for pensions, including more than half of the OECD.

There is no political consensus about this. The present government is standing firm on no. I do not intend to take a stand either for or against raising the age for NZS. Instead, I will just put forward the pros and cons of such a move.

 

 Arguments against increasing the age of eligibility

 

  • Older people are entitled to a decent life after retirement.

 

  • They have worked hard all their lives and deserve a pension. They have bought homes, raised and educated children, saved money, paid off mortgages, while contributing to social services and financial support, including superannuation, through paying income tax.

  • People currently in the workforce have adjusted their savings plans on the expectation of a certain entitlement age.

  • People should have security and should not have to worry about income in their old age. Private sector savings, including Kiwi Saver, depend on the vagaries of financial markets.

  • Many people lost their savings in finance company failures, even though they saved and invested for their retirement. Many low paid workers or beneficiaries cannot afford to save for retirement anyhow.

  • Raising the age will just increase the demands on other benefits (sickness, unemployment) with no net fiscal gain.

 

  • Many people are unable to continue in paid work, especially hard physical work (there are arguments for them to have NZS earlier).

 

  • Similarly, increasing the age is unfair to Maori and Pacific people, whose life expectancy is lower.

  • NZS is sustainable – given good economic conditions and increased productivity. It is better to put more effort into achieving a competitive, fully employed, high income-generating economy.

 

  • If you are a politician, you may fear an electoral backlash if receipt of NZS is deferred.

 

Arguments for increasing the age of eligibility

  • People are living longer and healthier and this provides the opportunity for them to work longer.

  • There are benefits in people continuing to work longer – it has been linked to better physical and mental health; it gives them focus, stimulation and keeps them active. Income from work will improve living standards in later life and ensure they have some savings when they do retire.

  • The tax contributions of older workers will make it easier to meet the costs of an ageing population for health services and social care.

  • Why should younger taxpayers to fund a long unproductive retirement? Do we want to increase the unfair burdens placed on younger generations?

  • It will encourage saving – with a good lead-in time, young people can adjust their personal savings plans to compensate.

  • New Zealand simply can’t afford NZS at 65 for everyone. It should be a safety net, not an automatic entitlement. The country is in too much debt already.

What are the alternatives to raising the age of eligibility?

 

  • Have a means and/or income test on NZS.

 

  • Have a work test – stop paying NZS to people who are still in full-time employment.

 

  • Have a graduated NZS option – by paying those who postpone retirement a larger sum per year. People who wish to retire earlier could do so on a reduced amount.

  • Tighten up on eligibility for NZS – increase residency requirements for recent immigrants.

  • Cut government spending, for example cut back on other benefits and services.

  • Expand/increase taxation – raise GST or income tax, introduce a capital gains or inheritance tax.

 

  • Replace NZS by KiwiSaver – with compulsory membership.

  • Encourage people to have financial plans so they can retire when they want to at an age that isn’t reliant on government.

So what are your views? What is the CFFC likely to come up with this year?

 

 

 

[1] The Retirement Commission is now the Commission for Financial Capability and has changed its focus although it retains the requirement for the policy review.

[2] htttp://www.cffc.org.nz/reviewretirementincomepolicy/April/reviewing-retirement-income

[3] http://www.cffc.org.nz/assets/Documents/RI-Review-Report-to-Govt-Dec-2013.pdf

 

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“Cause” and effect: Looking at the not-for-profit aged care sector from an Australian perspective

Judith Davey

7/7/16

A wealth management and stock-broking firm is not perhaps the first place you would look to for an analysis of the not-for-profit sector. The Cause Report, recently published by JBWere in Australia, does not tell us about social wellbeing, alleviation of social ills, or quality care[1].  Its focus is funding and investment, balance sheets and staffing. Even so, it presents some interesting data and comparisons, and has a section on aged care.

How does New Zealand compare?

First, there are some international comparisons, including  Australia, New Zealand, Canada. Japan, the UK and USA. Taking the sector as a whole, New Zealand has the lowest number of staff per NPI (non-profit institution) and the smallest number of people per NPI. In other words, in comparative terms, our NPIs are small, but many. The sector’s contribution to GDP is 2.8%, as against 7.1% for Canada and 5.5% in the USA.

Differences in funding sources are interesting. Among the six countries listed above, the not-for-profit sector in New Zealand has the lowest percentage of funding from government sources – 9% as against 51% in Canada and 47% in the UK (the data comes from a variety of recent sources). But the sector in New Zealand has the highest percentage from philanthropy – 24% – the USA coming next at 13% (data based on tax deductible donations).  Even bearing in mind the difficulties of measurement and comparisons, it appears that in New Zealand the government is much less generous in its support, but that Kiwis are better givers to charity.

So what about aged care? The report notes that this is one of the fastest growing segments of the “charity field” in terms of income and assets and that this growth is likely to accelerate. The report compares not-for-profit aged care with other groups in the sector, from the Australian perspective.

Aged care outranks the other areas in terms of income, staff and assets and also government grants (along with not-for-profit health, welfare and education organisations). Aged care is second only to education in number of employees, and ranks highest for employee costs as a percentage of total costs. On the other hand, aged care scores low on average wages – the average is only about half of that for higher education and research. This is something which could have been predicted, given that aged care in New Zealand also is a low-wage sector.

I found it interesting to see how the non-profit sectors compared in the receipt of donations and bequests. The highest dollar totals were for religious charities (not welfare groups run by religious organisations), research (mainly medical), higher education, social service and health NPIs.  Aged Care ranked very low in terms of the value of donations.  Does the Australian population not think of aged care as worthy of giving or bequests, or does the sector not “pitch” for such funding compared to private schools and universities, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or World Vision. I wonder what the picture would be in New Zealand.

 Predictions for the future

The Cause Report predicts the future of the not-for-profit sector, influenced strongly by JBWere’s business orientation. These verge on recommendation and include:

  • Finding new ways of operating; new operating methods and delivery models, greater and more imaginative use of IT, quicker and wider knowledge-sharing.

  • A greater focus on measurement to argue for better funding (financial rewards in JBWere-speak) from funders or beneficiaries.

  • Coping with increased transparency, benchmarking and relations with news media.

  • Partnerships between profit and not for profit organisations – blurring of the lines between them. “NFPs (not-for-profits) need to better value the knowledge they bring to the relationship and develop an understanding of how they are helping the for-profit (s) while also enhancing their own mission.”

  • Rapid growth may lead to mergers and acquisitions.

  • Improving volunteering –attracting the next generation of supporters as the current volunteer workforce ages. This is also true for board membership. It “may result in having a potentially smaller but more engaged and mutually useful volunteer workforce.”

  • Trying to improve areas where there is potential for philanthropy. NFPs need different skills to address corporate giving compared to a mass market (which I interpret as standing on street corners shaking a tin).

[1] John McLeod (April 2016) The Cause Report – 20 years of (r)evolution in the not for profit sector. JBWere Australia

 

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Faith-based or Commercial? Promoting social value in aged care

Judith Davey

20/5/16

 

When older people and their families/whanau are looking for aged care they have choices – commercial or voluntary/community sector? If we need residential care would we go for Oceania/BUPA/Ryman or look at Presbyterian Support/Wesleycare/Anglican Living. And what would guide our choices? What makes the difference?

 

In 2015 the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) published Outcomes Plus.[1] This examined the special contribution made by community and voluntary sector social service providers. What do they offer which is unique– their “added value” in other words?

 

The report concluded that these special attributes arise from the flexibility and innovation which the community and voluntary sector can provide: from their networks, accessibility and closeness to local communities.

 

The staff are local, they’re embedded in the community and have that local knowledge…. If you contract out to the big providers…. Those groups know nothing about the local community.

 

At the NZCCSS aged care conference, which I mentioned last time, a new piece of research was launched which matched the conference title – Valuing Lives, Living Well. This built on Outcomes Plus but looked especially at services for older people and especially at “faith-based” providers (in this case meaning Christian). What makes these distinctive? How do they differ from the corporate sector?

 

Looking at these questions from the outside, I thought it might have to do with image and culture. What does the title “Christian” conjure up? My dictionary defines it as “consistent with Christ’s teaching” therefore kind, caring, charitable and unselfish. And this is surely what we want in our aged care services. Secondly, people who have all their lives been immersed in the culture of their faith may wish to spend their later years in an institution where this is practiced, whether it be Catholicism, Quakerism or, for that matter, Islam or Buddhism.

 

But we must also look at the inner workings of faith-based aged care providers. Using interview material from clients, staff and management in 10 different organisations, the report illustrates elements of added value. These include mission, leadership, inclusiveness and volunteerism, summed up as social value and community development, and even more succinctly as “going the extra mile”.

 

Mission and leadership ideally demonstrate the Christian values which help to make a “people-centred” service – “people care about people here”. “We promote staff and residents as being one family.” In-house chaplains are frequently on hand to help people with unresolved issues and conversations about the end of life. Christian services have a long history of providing support for the most vulnerable and challenging people, and this continues. They often involve volunteers who can provide links with the wider community and have time to talk, listen and reminisce. This can enhance social inclusion for residents and is part of community development. “It’s like there is an open door between us and the larger community.”

 

All this adds up to social value and the rather more formal phrase “organisational specific capital.” It means the unique skills, characteristics and infrastructure which faith-based services have built up over time. As a care worker told the researchers – “Value doesn’t necessarily come in materialistic form. Value can be in the time taken… how much (older people) are listened to, or that they are in fact listened to.”

 

This leaves some very fundamental questions. Do faith-based aged care services have the monopoly of these desirable characteristics? How can they be measured when it comes to contractual requirements? How can these values be extended into parts of the system where they are lacking? And how can we ensure that funders and policy-makers recognise social value? Let me know what you think.

[1] The “Outcome Plus” report can be seen at http://nzccss.org.nz/news/library/outcomes-plus-25-may-pdf/

 

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