The recent review of the Building Code fell short in addressing many of the key issues for our ageing population – despite all the work done to advocate on their behalf.
A wide range of representative groups including the Barrier Free Trust, CCS Disability Action, The National Association of People with Disabilities (DPA) and Grey Power were involved in identifying changes needed to the Building Code to ensure New Zealand’s housing stock meets the needs of all people as they change over time.
In this review, our expectations have not been met as the review focused on leaky buildings and reducing compliance. While I respect the need to address these issues, they are just one small aspect of the bigger picture.
What is required is a holistic perspective and collaborative approach where the government is committed to working with community groups and business to deliver housing that will cater for the population as it changes according to age, diversity and demand for a moving population.
Unless NZ follows countries like the United Kingdom, Japan, Holland, Germany and Australia in planning for housing for an aging population, we will create an economic and personal crisis for the state and on NZ households. The Government faces bearing the cost of housing the elderly whose homes no longer meet their needs as well as the costs of adapting homes so people are able to live in them longer.
Indeed, it already foots the bill for altering people’s homes through the Ministry of Health’s Enable contract, a bill that will proportionately increase as the population ages. The Government has an opportunity right now to work with business and NZ consumers to manage this risk
An ageing population also means more people will be moving into residential care. Depending on their financial circumstances, this becomes an immediate cost for Government – and, as we know, residential care isn’t cheap.
And there is a cost involved with elderly people who try to stay in inadequately outfitted houses with the increased risk of home accidents. ACC bears this cost, an area which is already their fastest-growing cost centre.
The Building Code review was a missed opportunity, yet it highlights even more the need for an across-Government strategy to address these challenges we face.
Lifemark offers a solution, a working strategy that doesn’t rely on regulation to drive change, but on consumer choice, business opportunity and competitive advantage.
Right now, the Government is working on the Disabilty Plan as part of reporting on NZ’s action toward fulfilling our obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. Lifetime Design can be an exciting and market led response to how NZ steps up to this Convention.