The newly-appointed general manager of social services at Presbyterian Support East Coast (PSEC) is calling on the Government to provide more access to community services to support older people in their homes.

Mary Wills has recently stepped into the management role at PSEC, a not-for-profit service for older people, family violence prevention and people with a disability in the Hawke’s Bay-East Coast region.

“We need to value our older people more,” Mrs Wills said.

“They deserve more than lip service and tokenism.”

Investing in older people saves money in the long run, by preventing hospital admissions and delaying the need for residential care.

“Everybody wins when we invest wisely in our older people,” Mrs Wills said.

She has worked with health and social services for 29 years in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, most recently leading the planning and funding team at the Hawke’s Bay DHB. The move to PSEC is a return to her first love, community-based services for the most vulnerable.

“This is my dream job,” she said.

“I’ve worked in ACC, community and hospital services, government and NGO. It’s very clear that real innovation only comes from coalface services close to the consumer. PSEC innovates constantly. PSEC is determined and intentional in delivering quality care, and they can demonstrate the impact of their services.

Growth area

“The aged care sector is a massive growth area. There are more and more people suffering from dementia and it is our job to ensure they go through this with dignity.

“There is a mindset out there that the elderly need to be in care, but this needs to change. They can stay in their homes quite comfortably if they have better access to community services. We need more collaboration of services in the community.”

During the 17 years she worked with the Hawke’s Bay DHB, Mrs Wills was responsible for planning for the health of older people, mental health services and for people with disabilities.

She developed intermediate care beds, EngAGE multidisciplinary teams supporting frail older people in the community and hospital, kaupapa Maori mental health services, integration of primary care services and extended dementia services in the community.

“In my previous roles I have helped develop intermediate care for older people, increasing access to community support people like physios and occupational therapists. At PSEC I aim to achieve more in this area.

“There needs to be more flexible support that better responds to the needs of those in our communities.”

“It is a privilege to work for PSEC. PSEC’s health and social services are highly regarded and make a huge difference to the most vulnerable people in our region.

“Our clients deserve the best we can deliver for them.”

The original Gisborne Herald article is published here.

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