Aged care report looks at benefits of adapting tikanga Māori

By Marena Mane

The quality of care for older Māori and aged residential care is under the spotlight in a new report from the University of Auckland published this week.

The report commissioned by the health quality and safety commission found that fewer Māori enter aged residential care (ARC) than non-Māori, and many would prefer to be cared for by whānau. 

Dr Joanna Hikaka, who co-authored the report with Ngaire Kerse, says she wanted to showcase the work, policy and research already done that was not for Māori but impacted Māori.

“If we're going to create change, we need that to happen across multiple sectors,” she says.

Dr Hikaka says there are positive benefits in aged residential care if only they were Māori-led and Māori designed.

“To get those benefits, you're having to weigh up whether you search for those benefits at the detriment of your cultural safety, and how you feel and express yourself as Māori.”

Māori often feel guilty placing their kaumātua into aged residential care but Dr Hikaka says ARC is resourced to provide support as we age, and if they cannot do that then it is taking away the responsibility of ARC to provide culturally safe services.

“We also place mamae (hurt) back on the whānau that have made a good informed decision that is the best place for their kaumātua, their koeke,” says Dr Hikaka.

She says traditional Māori modes of care can be brought into aged care institutions through whānau members who have been caring for their old at home.

“How do we then create that learning and flow that through to the aged care facilities? How do we create models that sit outside aged residential care?”

Dr Hikaka says, “Create avenues that we can elevate this discussion and make change, not to keep talking about this but make a change.”

Moving forwards, Dr Hikaka says our kaumātua must be included in these discussions and services in order to not only create a safe environment for them, but also for whānau to visit and staff to stay on the job.

“We need the resources to be flexible enough to understand that there's going to be diverse needs … and we need the sector to take responsibility for this to drive this,” she says.