Macarthy Trust supports Age Concern

Macarthy Trust supports Age Concern to support older people

Retirement doesn’t turn out to be the golden years for everyone.

For an increasing number of people in the community, becoming older is associated with becoming more vulnerable, dependant, and having reduced options.

“Elder abuse and neglect is a major and growing concern,” says Age Concern Wellington’s Chief Executive and President John Gibbons, “and the need for services such as ours is enormous.”

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This has inevitably increased Age Concern’s financial needs, and the contributions from charitable trusts have made the difference. For more than a decade, the Thomas George Macarthy Trust has supported Age Concern Wellington.

“Age Concern has received around $40,000 over the last eight or nine years,” says John. “Without funding from trusts, we could not do all the work we do.”

Demand for Age Concern’s service is increasing fast. At the coalface is Age Concern Wellington’s Community Support Co-ordinator, Ann Dalziel.

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While responding to 3-4000 phonecalls every year from people seeking information, advice or services, she also refers people to the co-ordinators who manage visiting services or elder abuse services. Ann also organises courses and workshops on topics such as safe driving, boosting resilience, and text messaging.

“I never know what the calls will be about. Some of them are dreadful. But I get great satisfaction from being able to help somebody.”

Monica, the Visiting Service Co-ordinator for Age Concern Wellington, is often surprised at how important the home visits are to people. There are many older people who have few visitors, or none at all.

“Isolation is a huge issue for older people. They very rarely have the opportunity to have a chat to somebody.”

Occasionally Age Concern receives phone calls from older people who have had to hire a tradesperson because they have no one to help them with tasks as simple as replacing a light globe. ”It’s terrible to think that you have to pay someone to change a light globe,” says Monica. “Little things mean a lot to an older person.”

Ann agrees, and says that elder abuse is also a major problem.

“We’ve had a huge number of calls about elder abuse and that is our number one, hot issue at the moment. It’s huge, huge. We hear lots of horrible stories each week and you think you can’t hear worse, but the next week you hear something else.”

Elder abuse describes a diverse range of situations, most of which are subtle, such as leaving the television remote just out of reach, but can include financial abuse such as withdrawing money from bank accounts without permission or misusing powers of attorney. There are relatively few cases of obvious abuse, such as people causing physical pain to an older person.

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Sue Charles leads the delivery of elder abuse and neglect prevention workshops in rest homes and hospitals.

She changes people’s thinking and perceptions about what elder abuse is, and emphasises that aged care workers do a really difficult job, but are often untrained, or have come from other countries holding different values or traditions. In most cases, aged care workers are unaware they are abusing an older person or causing them distress, so education is very important, and must be done with sensitivity.

John says it is vital that Age Concern receives funding to continue its work.

“If there was no Age Concern, the community would be much worse off and the health service would have to pick up the pieces.”


The Thomas George Macarthy Trust commemorates its centennial year in 2012. Almost $60 million has been distributed to thousands of community organisations, including Age Concern Wellington, across the lower North Island.

Public Trust is responsible for administering the Thomas George Macarthy Trust through an approach that ensures that the Trust is safeguarded and grown to benefit past, current and future generations of the community.