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Call for extreme makeover of homecare sector


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Photo: Jackie Edkins

PRESS RELEASE
5 December 2005
For immediate release


Rural Women New Zealand calls for extreme makeover of homecare sector

Rural Women New Zealand says a total revamp of the home care industry is required, following its presentation of an 18,000 signature Petition to Parliament on Friday calling for the reimbursement of travel costs for home care workers.

President Sherrill Dackers told the rally that the lack of reimbursement of travel costs was at the heart of the home care sector’s woes, particularly in rural areas.

“Workers are leaving the job in droves,” she said. A 2004 Ministry of Health study showed a staff turnover rate of 39% per annum, although anecdotally this is now thought to have risen to 50%.

Ms Dackers said “Our petition today is a call for justice. We are urging Parliament to take urgent action to guarantee the provision of home-based care services for rural communities.”

“Moves by the previous Government to increase funding by $15.5 million is not enough. This apparently generous move is totally insufficient to meet travel costs of homecare workers, particularly in rural areas.”

Because workers are not paid as they drive between clients, rural caregivers may work up to 70 hours a week to receive 40 hours pay and must pay their vehicle expenses and petrol costs out of this. There are 20,000 home care workers around the country, 95% of whom are women. Workers are paid between $10.50 and $11.50 an hour.

The delegation from Rural Women New Zealand arrived at Parliament in a 1929 Studebaker car, dressed in furs, hats and gloves, representing the women of the Women’s Division of the NZ Farmers Union who first called on the Government to pay the travel costs of its bush nurse and housekeeping scheme, the forerunner of today’s home healthcare scheme.

Sherrill Dackers said it is a tragedy because even after 77 years of this problem being brought to Government’s attention Rural Women New Zealand must once again address the matter.

ENDS

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