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Health service providers are struggling to cope with increased growth and diversity of the population. Most dialogue has been on where to place facilities, but providers have little data to help them understand the perspectives of different types of service users, such as how different populations define health, when, where and how services are delivered. This includes recognition that inequities in health status and service access continue to exist and progress depends upon developing different person centred responses for different sub-populations (including Māori, Asians, low income, those with mental health challenges, older adults, etc.).
There was consensus that we need to engage in intelligent growth with an aim to create healthy, vibrant local communities. For example, investments in transportation and housing should not be made on the assumption that we want to facilitate more people being able to commute to the Auckland CBD. Rather, healthy communities are achieved through deliberate planning of active local transportation systems (safe, well lit pathways for walking and cycling, transit systems for local travel as well as commuting), smart and deliberate urban planning which includes sufficient high quality homes, greenspace, recreation facilities, libraries, access to basic local retail services, schools, health and social service, as well as access to community based jobs. Urban planning and the built environment (homes, transportation systems, retail shops) must be adapted for the challenges faced by older adults. Current large scale developments focus too much on building houses and not enough on building a community of people.
A key element of intelligent design for healthy communities is to enhance opportunities for social connections and trust. Neighbours need to interact with one another. A commuter driven style of growth is not conducive to social development or trust, which may lead to mental health challenges, physical health problems, crime, and ghettoization. People are more likely to accept high density housing if they are designed to balance privacy, social connection and trust. Regrettably, little is known about social networks and how people are influenced by them and use them. The sense was that people’s health and health behaviours are influenced far more by their social networks than professional service providers.
Auckland needs to better understand the impact it has on Northland. Failure to create sufficient good jobs, educational opportunities from primary to tertiary, good housing, and family support will result in more older adults moving to Northland for quality of life, while young people moving to Auckland.
Massey’s help to create partnerships would be welcome to address the following:
Research to understand the social networks people are engaged in, how these networks influence North Auckland and Northland residents, and how social networks might be used to enhance health and well-being.
Research, consultation and thought leadership on how to assist health service agencies to improve their ability to engage communities, and facilitate social action.
Research and policy/thought leadership on improving urban design for health.
Research and assistance to help organisation move beyond the concept of reducing the risk of injury and move towards a more comprehensive perspective on their role and responsibilities in improving all aspects of health and well-being.
Research and through leadership on how to reduce health inequalities, particularly among Māori and Pasifika. Assistant to monitor and understand the health of migrant populations and related health determinants.
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Last updated on Tuesday 16 August 2016