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Calls For End to Low Pay for Caregivers

6 October 2004

Nurses Organisation Calls For End to Low Pay for Caregivers

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation has asked the Health Select Committee to assess the skills and hard work required of caregivers and address their abysmal wages.

NZNO Aged Care coordinator Cee Payne-Harker told the committee that freezing workers are paid more for working with dead meat than caregivers do for working with live people.

“Caregiving involves so much more than simply the physical care aspects,” said Cee Payne-Harker. “There are all the other things that people require from you.”

An NZNO survey on caregivers’ pay released by NZNO last week found 70% of caregivers surveyed earnt between $10 and $12 an hour. The average hourly rate for men is $19.58. 97% of caregivers’ husbands and 98% of caregivers’ children earned more than their partners and mothers.

Cee Payne-Harker said training was needed to work with our most vulnerable elderly. There were not enough training opportunities in the sector and even when caregivers were trained, their qualifications were not recognised in their pay.

“There is very little monetary reward for caregivers who have gained more knowledge and skills through their work or qualifications,” she said.

“Financial investment by the government in the training of caregivers, and financial recognition of this qualification for caregivers, would benefit the whole aged care sector.”

Cee Payne-Harker said fully funded foundation skills training would have a direct positive impact on the quality of care provided to older persons in residential and home care settings and a significant impact on workforce recruitment and the ongoing retention of caregiving staff.


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