Aged care

November 1, 2020

NZNO on ARC pandemic plan; ARC nurses seek feedback on the “geriatric 5Ms”; and Otago gerontology nurse Margaret Stevenson is inducted onto the NZNO college of gerontology nursing’s honour roll.

NZNO on ARC pandemic plan

NZNO has asked the Ministry of Health (MoH) to better consider Māori and unions in its pandemic response policy for aged residential care (ARC).


The policy is being drafted following a review of the ARC sector’s response to COVID-19, after five clusters were linked to rest homes. A key recommendation was for a national outbreak management policy.


Its stated intention is to provide nationally consistent guidance on how the ARC sector works together to prepare for, prevent and manage transmissible disease outbreaks.

It is based around six principles: achieving Māori health equity; achieving health equity; wellbeing of ARC residents; wellbeing of ARC staff; collaboration and communication; and preparedness.

NZNO policy analyst Māori Leanne Manson said more work was needed to ensure culturally safe care for Māori residents and whānau in an outbreak.


A kaumātua and Māori wardens must be available to residents, as part of ARC’s relationship with tāngata whenua, she said.

NZNO professional nursing adviser Marg Bigsby said the plan needed more detail to ensure the right staff, skills and experience would be in the right place at the right time. It also needed to highlight the importance of providers engaging with union representatives during a pandemic, she said.

More details were needed on how to prepare for a pandemic and the impact on staff of things like pandemic training, Bigsby said.

College of gerontology nursing member Bridget Richards said the impact of extra training, particularly on small providers with few staff, needed to be considered.

Bigsby and Richards are part of the MoH ARC pandemic working group, which is currently developing an ARC pandemic response workbook, hopefully by the end of the year, Richards said.

ARC nurses seek feedback

Geriatric 5Ms model

The college of gerontology nursing is seeking feedback, as it updates its knowledge and skills framework (KSF) to better support aged-care nurses’ professional development.

Committee member Morag MacKenzie said a KSF was important to maintain a well-trained gerontology nursing workforce. It promoted best practice, and underpinned the college vision of a “visible and valued” workforce.

To update its six-year-old KSF, the college has drawn on a Canadian-United States model called the “geriatric 5Ms” to describe the core competencies needed, adapting it for New Zealand.

It comprised:

  • Matters most: What matters most to the individual and their health goals.
  • Mind: Mental wellness and managing depression, delirum and dementia.
  • Mobility: Key to independence and support may be needed.
  • Medications: Poly-pharmacy, de-prescribing, managing adverse reactions and best practice for older people.
  • Multi-complexity: Supporting people to manage their own health, particularly for those with complex needs.

Details are available on the college’s NZNO website. MacKenzie, who is a senior health and social practice academic at Waikato Institute of Technology, said the college was keen to hear members’ thoughts.

Gerontology nurse given honour

Margaret Stevenson
Margaret Stevenson

Long-time nurse and active NZNO member, Otago’s Margaret Stevenson has been inducted onto the NZNO college of gerontology nursing’s honour roll, for her years of local and national contribution to aged care.

After 20 years of hospital nursing, Stevenson moved into aged residential care (ARC) in 2003, becoming a dementia unit manager at the Birchleigh residential centre in 2007. In her 10 years there, Stevenson was pivotal in bringing about a multitude of improvements for the residents before retiring in 2017.

She fought hard for optimum staff ratios and was also involved in piloting the interRai assessment programme, her enthusiasm for it rubbing off on to others, including me. To this day, I remain a keen user of the tool.

A long-time NZNO member, in 2003 she also joined the Otago branch of NZNO’s then-gerontology section.

Over the years Stevenson has been a mentor to many, including me. Her wisdom and knowledge have been valued and appreciated by those across a wide spectrum of life and she has been a valuable contributor to gerontology within New Zealand.