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Care For Residents Paramount At Redwood Lodge

Nz Life Care Says Care For Residents Paramount At Redwood Lodge

New Zealand Life Care Limited says the care of its residents at its Redwood Lodge rest home and hospital is its first priority – despite union claims otherwise.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation members at Redwood Lodge are on their third day of strike action today.

Rotorua-based New Zealand Life Care General Manager, Residential, Lynne Irwin, says the company has been hampered by regulations which do not permit them to replace non-essential staff when workers withdraw their labour.

“We have done the best job in the circumstances, and have addressed any concerns expressed by staff after their first day of strike action last week. We are extremely grateful to all the volunteers who are continuing to assist the qualified staff we have brought in to replace the striking workers, and all of the volunteers have received a health and safety briefing before starting work,” she says.

“We have, and we always will staff the facility to safe levels. The union says it’s concerned about staffing ratios, but we have recently been audited under the Ministry of Health’s new Health and Disability Standards – which include a review of resident to staff ratios - and received a glowing report. We also have a tertiary incentive standard with Accident Compensation Corporation. Both of these prove we are exceeding all the required standards for private aged care, and in fact, we currently expend more on our wages than Ministry of Health consultants recommend.”

Mrs Irwin says she is surprised the union continues to bring the matter up as during the mediation process they negotiated and agreed a basis for addressing employee concerns about staffing levels.

“The union representative is continuing to misuse figures in the media, stating the government has said wages need to be at 70% of costs to achieve a safe level of care. The report he is referring to was done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2000, but was updated by Cap Gemini this year. The updated report sets the level of wages as a percentage of income required to 46% for resthomes and 58% for hospitals.”

“This, and other misinformation being put out by the union is preventing our staff from making an informed decision on our offer.

“We cannot spend more on staffing than we are currently offering, as we already exceed all legal requirements and expectations. Throughout this process we have acted in good faith, but we do not believe the union’s representative has done the same,” she says.

Redwood Lodge Limited, the New Zealand Life Care subsidiary which operates the rest home and hospital, has made it clear to the union that it will not negotiate with it under the threat of strike action.

“The union has chosen to reject our offer, and the positive steps we made in mediation, without fully explaining the details to its members. Despite this, several staff have already decided to return to work, because they do not agree with the union’s stance on the issue,” says Mrs Irwin.

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