Otago Polytechnic
Steinhof The Couple Just Call Me Mo CC BY NC 2.0 9 May 2013

Ageing well

Dunedin's older people will benefit from work by our Occupational Therapy students.

Age Concern Otago is an independent charitable organisation dedicated to supporting older people. Age Concern Otago promotes healthy, active and positive ageing for people over 65, celebrating and advancing the wellbeing of Otago’s older people.  To carry out these purposes Age Concern Otago appreciates the support of many volunteers, including teams of our Occupational Therapy students who worked with Age Concern Otago on three different projects during 2018.

A couple of students researched sexual intimacy for older adults, an important topic on which there has been little information readily available. They produced a booklet, "Age and Intimacy", which was tastefully done and provides information for older people about sexual intimacy including sexual health. This booklet will be widely distributed by Age Concern Otago, to rest homes, doctors' surgeries, and the Southern District Health Board.

Another student team investigated why Age Concern Otago's mobility scooter training sessions were not better attended. They explored the barriers to attendance and designed a process for Age Concern Otago to use going forwards, to help ensure this service reached people who would benefit from it.

One long-term goal of Age Concern Otago is for Dunedin to be recognised as an age-friendly city. Some of the students gathered information about what was involved to meet the World Health Organisation criteria, and learned from Hamilton's experience as New Zealand's only age-friendly city currently. They also engaged with the Southern District Health Board's Portfolio Manager for Older Person's Health and won the DHB's support. The students' report set out a process for Age Concern Otago to use to start on the journey of Dunedin becoming an age-friendly city. Because the Dunedin City Council is a key stakeholder, the students went the extra mile by meeting with the Mayor to sell the concept to him.

Debbie George, Operations Manager at Age Concern Otago, was enthusiastic about the students' work for the organisation:

"All three teams were marvellous. Give them all a gold star!"
March 2019