DHB and University linked in aged care leadership role

19 April 2011

Waikato District Health Board is set to take a lead role in research in the care of older people across the country with the appointment of New Zealand’s first Professor of Gerontology Nursing.


Professor Matthew Parsons is the newly established chair in gerontology nursing, a joint appointment between The University of Auckland and Waikato DHB. The role will bring together the teaching and research strengths of the University with new models of service delivery in the aged care sector driven by the DHB. The research will translate into the delivery of better services to the region’s elderly.

“I am delighted to be taking up this position with Waikato DHB as it meshes together the study of old age with clinical practice,” said Professor Parsons.

“Waikato DHB initiated this position to better respond to the envisaged growth in aged care requirements across their region and the recognised need to deliver more tailored rehabilitation services to the community. As New Zealand’s largest and most rurally dispersed district health board, findings and practices we produce will have direct application across the rest of the country and further afield.

“In the broadest sense, older people require up to three times the amount of health services than does the rest of the population, with most of these services being delivered in the community. Our task will be to ensure these services are the most suitable for the individuals, the groups and the wider New Zealand communities we serve.”

Waikato DHB Older Persons and Rehabilitation Services Group Manager, Barbara Garbutt believes the new position will give the DHB new capacity and links in their population health portfolio.

“We need to seize this opportunity to progress the development of appropriate services for our older clients; not just in the hospital and acute setting but also in supporting individuals to receive appropriate care and support in their homes and residences of choice.

“Matthew will contribute to our understanding of the population needs of the Waikato community into the future, recognising the need to prevent ill-health and promoting wellbeing. He will bring significant international knowledge and experience to add to our developments within the Waikato. We are very excited about this new appointment, not only for the Waikato DHB but for the communities we support.”

Associate Professor Judy Kilpatrick heads up The University of Auckland’s School of Nursing and sees the new position as fitting completely with the ethos behind the School.

“Taking sound research findings and translating these into how we treat patients in a clinical setting is precisely what the School of Nursing strives to achieve. The ability to take this knowledge and weave it into our teaching at the School of

Nursing and the teaching the Waikato DHB does is the next logical step. This way we not only stay as current as possible, but we are also able to tailor our practices to the community we are serving,” said Associate Professor Kilpatrick.

Waikato DHB director of nursing and midwifery Sue Hayward welcomed the commitment and vision within the Older Persons Service that allowed the development and then the appointment of this leading nursing role.

“The role places a stake in the ground indicating that this area of health is important and exciting so is very worthy of the joint appointment and will be at the forefront of new and innovative ways of providing nursing care for our older people.”

Professor Parsons holds a PhD and Masters in Gerontology from The University of London following on from a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and Human Biology obtained from London’s Kings College. In addition, he is a trained nurse and has held various positions in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at The University of Auckland since 2000. During this time he established a gerontology research unit at the School of Nursing, has led or participated in numerous national strategy development groups including the Health of Older Person Strategy and the Specialist Health Services for Older People framework, and has developed and managed a range of contractual arrangements around service development and evaluation to both DHBs and non Government organisations.


Mary Anne Gill, Communications Director 
Waikato District Health Board 
Phone: +647 8343 684 
Mobile: +64 (0)21 705 213 
Email: maryanne.gill@waikatodhb.health.nz

Megan Fowlie, Communications Adviser 
Faculty of Medical Health Sciences 
The University of Auckland 
Phone: +649 3737 599 ext 83257 
Mobile: +64 (0)21 802 143 
Email: m.fowlie@auckland.ac.nz