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The Eldernet Group celebrates 25 years of empowering people

Wednesday, August 17, 2022   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: Community, services

All great ideas have humble beginnings. Apple, Amazon and Google all started in suburban garages, while Facebook and computer company Dell were created in college dorm rooms. Similarly, in its early days The Eldernet Group operated out of a bedroom in the family home of Eleanor Bodger, who has been a founding director of the company since day one.

When it launched in 1997, Eldernet was one of New Zealand’s first websites during a time when many said the internet ‘wouldn’t be a thing.’ Eldernet was established in response to seeing a need for a comprehensive information service that focused on issues concerning older kiwis. At the time, Eleanor (previously a nurse and then social worker) taught herself a number of new skills, including uploading updates in the middle of the night over dial-up internet.

Eleanor shares director duties with her daughter, Esther Perriam these days. Together, the pair have grown The Eldernet Group into New Zealand’s most trusted provider of information for older people. With a team of more than 20 people, the company counts every care home and registered retirement village in the country among their clients.

The Eldernet Group recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special event, which included an appearance by 2022 New Zealander of the Year, Tā Tipene O'Regan ONZ. The milestone coincided with the opening of the organisation’s new building - less than 1km away from where the company began in the Christchurch suburb of New Brighton.

“Over the past 25 years, we’ve seen people become empowered with information in ways we never thought possible, and we’re delighted to have played a part in that,” says Eleanor. “What we are particularly proud of is the way we haven’t waivered from our vision of making life easier and better for all older people - even if that has meant rocking the boat over the years.”

Hitting the 25-year mark is a significant milestone for any business but it is particularly momentous for The Eldernet Group - given it has spent the past decade operating from one of the suburbs hardest hit by the Christchurch earthquakes. Like many other businesses around the country, it has also successfully navigated the past 18 months of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s important that we acknowledge the incredible support we have had from our clients and various supporters over the years. We truly wouldn’t be here without them,” says Eleanor.

Looking forward to the future

The Eldernet Group is already looking ahead to the next 25 years – a future that will come with its fair of challenges for New Zealand’s ageing population. While the new health system aims to improve the quality and consistency of health care for all New Zealanders, the reality is that that the sector is still under huge strain.

“There is a lack of clinical staff around the country and many services continue to work beyond capacity, often with limited funding. This is resulting in longer wait lists and wait times for some health services,” says Eleanor.

“The cost of living is making life tougher for many older people too, and issues such as access to affordable housing, loneliness and social isolation continue to affect people in a multitude of ways. And as New Zealand’s population continues to age, these issues are going to affect more and more of us.”

“Yet that’s what we’re here for – to empower people to live the life they want. Having access to the right information helps people to navigate the ageing journey – and all the ups and downs along the way.”