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Research Reveals Alarming Ageism Against the Elderly within the Health Sector

Research Reveals Alarming Ageism Against the Elderly within the Health Sector

In a startling revelation, new health research has uncovered a distressing trend of ageism within the health sector, specifically targeted against the elderly.

The findings serve as a crucial warning about the future staffing crisis that the aged care sector might face.

With Te Whatu Ora projecting that 21% of New Zealand’s population will be aged 65 or over by 20s, urgent action is needed to address this issue and attract more nursing professionals to the field of aged care.

Associate Professor Samantha Heath, a leading nursing expert at Unitec in West Auckland, has shed light on the research outcomes, emphasizing the need for immediate intervention to combat ageism and promote inclusivity within healthcare.

Startling Figures and Implications

Associate Professor Samantha Heath’s soon-to-be-published research has exposed a disheartening statistic: 30% of trainee nurses surveyed across the nation expressed their reluctance to work in aged care.

Given that a quarter of New Zealand’s population is expected to be aged 65 and above within the next decade, this figure is particularly alarming.

Heath stresses the urgency of generating interest in nursing careers in aged care and eliminating the signs of ageism that were revealed through her research.

Her poignant statement highlights the need for students to be prepared and equipped to care for older adults in any setting they may encounter throughout their professional journey.

Restructuring Clinical Placements for Enhanced Learning

One of the significant revelations from the research is the importance of reevaluating the structure of clinical placements for nursing students.

Heath explains that an overreliance on aged residential care placements inadvertently undermines the valuable lessons that can be learned in other healthcare environments.

To combat ageism effectively, students must be exposed to diverse clinical settings where they can gain comprehensive experience in caring for older adults.

By diversifying their exposure and broadening their perspectives, students will be better equipped to meet the unique challenges and requirements of an aging population.

Unveiling Ageism in Local Attitudes

While ageism is a global issue that transcends beyond the health sector, the extent of ageist attitudes revealed in Heath’s research came as a surprise.

These findings underscore the pressing need for swift and effective implementation of measures to tackle ageism and prepare the healthcare workforce for the future.

By taking immediate action, it is possible to reduce ageism and cultivate a more inclusive and compassionate healthcare environment that values and respects older adults.

Preparing for the Demographic Shift

Te Whatu Ora Health NZ estimates that the current health budget allocates 46% of its resources to support people aged 65 and over. However, projections indicate that this percentage will rise to 54%. Furthermore, Te Whatu Ora’s population data forecasts that 21% of New Zealand’s population will be aged 65 and above.

To address the needs of an aging population, Te Whatu Ora is actively engaged in a comprehensive program that encompasses initiatives such as enhanced support for individuals living with dementia, rectifying pay disparities between residential aged care workers and hospital staff, and a thorough review of aged care support services.


The revelation of ageism within the health sector, particularly targeting the elderly, calls for urgent action to counter this discriminatory trend.

Associate Professor Samantha Heath’s research highlights the need to attract more nursing professionals to aged care and foster a more inclusive healthcare environment.

By restructuring clinical placements, diversifying experiences, and addressing ageist attitudes, the health sector can better prepare itself for the impending demographic shift.

The initiatives undertaken by Te Whatu Ora Health NZ signify a proactive approach toward supporting the aging population and ensuring a fair


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