Older people's health service


The Whanganui region’s higher-than-average population of older people (16 percent of Whanganui’s residents are aged 65 years or over) means a higher-than-average demand on our community’s health and social services.

Assessing your needs

Understandably, some people are less able to live independently than others as they get older so if you feel you need help, please visit your doctor and discuss your concerns. Doctors know and understand our general health needs well and he or she will be well placed to refer you for assessments if they believe that might help.

Te Whatu Ora Whanganui has a team of highly qualified clinical staff who provide specialist assessments for people aged 65 years and over.

To request a referral for an assessment please contact:

Community Assessment and Rehab Team
Te Whatu Ora Whanganui

Te Whatu Ora Whanganui
Ground Floor, Lambie Building
100 Heads Road, Whanganui
Ph. 06 348 3309

Email : referral.centre@wdhb.org.nz

You can do this yourself, or you can nominate someone else to do this on your behalf. Other people who can make a referral for you include:

  • a family/whanau member
  • a friend
  • your doctor
  • other suitable healthcare professionals, support groups and organisations

Please note that if you do nominate someone else to act on your behalf, it is essential that we receive your consent prior to a referral being made. This consent can come from you or your legal representative (e.g. your Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA)).

Your referral needs to include sufficient information and detail to ensure we can meet your needs in a timely manner.

Once your referral has been accepted, you will be contacted to arrange a suitable time and place for an assessment. If you wish, you can invite a family/whanau member or another support person to accompany you during the assessment.

An assessor will visit you to discuss your needs and during this visit, they will complete an interRAI assessment (Will make the word ‘interRAI’ a text link within the flow of text) using a laptop computer.

If for any reason we are unable to action your referral, you and/or the person who has made the referral will be advised in writing. If at all possible, we will provide information on alternative avenues of support available.

What is an interRAI assessment?

The interRAI (International Resident Instrument Assessment) is a comprehensive assessment process designed to help us meet the medical, rehabilitation and support needs of an older person so they can remain at home, and therefore, delay their potential need to move into residential care.

The interRAI helps us gather information about what you can do and what you have difficulty with, including mobility, memory, safety round the home, pain and the support of others. If you have a carer, then we also look at their needs in relation to the support they provide for you.

InterRAI assessors work with you and, where appropriate, your family/whanau and support people. Our assessors welcome family/whanau being part of the assessment process.
Please tell us prior to your assessment if you have any special requirements that need to be in place such as an interpreter or translator.

Once the interRAI is completed, the assessment is then referred to the Whanganui region’s Access Ability (our local service coordination provider).  

The two InterRai tools currently used are:

Homecare: full assessment encompassing 30 overall health needs such as vision, continence, nutrition, health promotion, falls and cognition.

Contact-short assessment: covering the main areas of urgency, complexity and rehabilitation potential.


Palliative Care  – offers another option for assessing people living in the community with a terminal condition or prognosis.

For more information about the interRAI, visit: www.interrai.org or www.interrai.aug.org.



What is service coordination?


After the completion of the interRAI assessment an Access Ability service coordinator will contact you and arrange a visit to discuss your needs and potential support options. You can have a friend or relative with you for support if you would find this more comfortable.

Some options identified may include funded support for particular activities. Where this is the case, we will advise you on the extent of that support and the criteria that apply.

Service coordinators have a wide knowledge and will be able to discuss all the options available to you, including public, private, voluntary and community services.

Once your support plan is agreed, the service coordinator will then work with other contracted service providers to put your support services in place. You will then receive a letter confirming this.

The service coordination is provided by:

Access Ability
244 Victoria Avenue, Whanganui
Phone: 0800 758 700
Email: wanganui@accessability.org.nz

What to do if you have concerns about your assessment and/or service coordination

If you have any concerns regarding your interRAI assessment and/or service coordination you are very welcome to request a review.

Please express your concerns to your assessor/service coordinator in the first instance. If this doesn’t resolve your concerns, then please contact the Access Ability manager.

You have the right to access all information arising from your assessment and service plan. Your privacy and confidentiality is respected at all times. If you are in any way dissatisfied with our service, you can contact the following:

Health and Disability Advocacy Commissioner
0800 555050

Health and Disability Commissioner
0800 11 22 33

Eligibility for long-term, funded support services

Eligibility of an older person for long-term, funded support services will depend on the outcomes of their interRAI assessment.

Funded support services will not be allocated to a person until the interRAI is completed, and all specific problems and risks for decline have been addressed.

Where a person needs funded support for a disability caused by accidental injury and their claim has been accepted by Access Ability, it is expected that ACC will fund the required support services.

Community support services - packages of care

Home-based support services can include:

  • household management
  • personal care
  • respite care
  • carer relief, residential respite, day activity, other carer support

Regular reviews will help ensure you have the appropriate support to maintain maximum independence and functionality. Agencies providing home-help and personal care services can be found on https://www.eldernet.co.nz/ or https://www.seniorline.org.nz/


Referrals may also be made to other support service providers relevant to your needs such as, funded Meals on Wheels  and community organisations and support groups such as, Parkinson’s New Zealand, the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand, Age Concern and Alzheimers New Zealand






Aged residential care

Residential care is generally only considered after all other options have been explored, and if all the support options allowing a person to remain living at home are not successful.

An interRAI assessor and members hospital multi-disciplinary team will work together to determine the right level of care a person needs.
The decision about which care facility to choose is left with the older person and their family/whanau.

There are four different categories of rest homes, each of which cater for different levels of care:

  • rest home care – for those who require high-level help with their daily activities
  • dementia care - for those who require an enclosed and secure environment
  • hospital continuing care - for those who require very high levels of nursing support
  • psychogeriatric care - for people with very high and complex dementia needs.

A full list of all aged residential care facilities and current vacancies in the Whanganui region ( including respite and day care rest homes, which can be useful options to give full-time carers a break from their care responsibilities) is available at: www.eldernet.co.nz (click on the map under ‘Residential Care’).

Income / asset testing

An older person entering residential care may be eligible for a residential care subsidy or a residential care loan. Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) complete an income and asset test to determine this.

If a residential care subsidy is approved, then part of the person’s superannuation also contributes to the cost of residential care. If a person exceeds the asset and/or income criteria, they may need to pay for all, or part of their care.

As the eligibility thresholds change each year, older people and their families/whanau need to check their eligibility status regularly. Rest homes are also obliged to advise when threshold changes occur.

For more information about income/asset testing, contact WINZ’s specialised processing department on 0800 999 727, or visit www.workandincome.govt.nz. Alternatively, you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

More information

For more information about the support options that may be available to you, such as residential care, home-based care and short-term relief care for caregivers, please call the Seniorline National Information Service on free phone 0800 725 463.


Palliative Care


Ongoing support and advice

You can initiate a review or re-assessment at any time by contacting Community Assessment and Rehabilitation Team  or Access Ability. Include Links to ATR Service and Access Ability.

You may wish to arrange a re-assessment and review of your support services, or discuss ways to make things work better for you.


The Specialist Services for Older People Service provides multidisciplinary community teams which, depending on the person’s identified needs, can include:

  • a geriatrician
  • a psychogeriatrician
  • registered nurses
  • an occupational therapist
  • physiotherapists
  • social workers
  • a speech language therapist
  • a clinical psychologist

The Specialist Services for Older People (SHOP) teams work within Whanganui Hospital, as well as community and rural areas, to develop patient-focused and goal-based treatment programmes.

These programmes are tailored to individual patients’ specific needs to promote independence and quality of life.

SHOP teams also specialise in working with older people who have behavioural and psychological symptoms associated with dementia, delirium, depression and anxiety disorders.

Although the majority of people in New Zealand with dementia are aged 65 years or over, around seven percent of people with early onset dementia are under this age.

Specialist services for older people (SHOP) services are for people, 65 years and over, who have high and complex physical needs and/or cognitive or mental health conditions and who will benefit from multidisciplinary assessment, treatment and rehabilitation.


We recommend that the first person you liaise with is your doctor, who can then make a referral.

However, please note, referrals can also be made by yourself, your family/whanau or carer, or by other appropriate healthcare professionals, primary services or community agencies. When a referral for older people specialist services is received, the multidisciplinary team considers the referral and decides which component of the service is best for you.