Meeting the social support needs of older rural people in Central Otago: The impact of a pilot social work position

Sharnee Diamond, Chrystal Jaye


INTRODUCTION: This project aimed to identify the support needs of older people living in rural Central Otago, Aotearoa New Zealand and to ascertain if a pilot social work position was meeting these needs.

METHODS: Data were collected during December 2019. Twelve semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with the social worker, referrers of the social worker’s clients, key community stakeholders, and the older rural residents supported by the social worker.

FINDINGS: An interpretive analysis of the data identified two key thematics: 1) being older in Central Otago; and 2) providing aged social work services in this region.

CONCLUSION: Despite the positive impact that the Age Concern Otago social work position is having for clients of the service, the need for social support for older rural people in Central Otago continues to grow. In addition to increasing social worker resourcing, better coordination and linking between the government and non-government agencies operating in this space would improve the effectiveness of aged social work services, as would improved visibility of these services within the community.


Social work; rural health; older people; ageing in place

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