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New Zealanders say Stop the Aged Care Crisis!

13 December 2006

New Zealanders say Stop the Aged Care Crisis!

Aged Care workers form across the country come to Parliament today with a message from New Zealand voters: Stop ignoring the crisis in elderly care.

Members of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and Service and Food Workers Union will deliver their message with the strength of 30,000 New Zealanders behind them. Their petition calls for increased funding for the Aged Care sector to rectify insulting pay rates, boost staffing to safe levels and offer adequate training opportunities to those charged with caring for our elderly.

“Proper recognition for their physically, emotionally and mentally demanding work is past being overdue,” says Rob Haultain, NZNO Industrial Advisor. “The message is clear. Our elderly and those who care for them are not being valued as they should be and New Zealanders are saying that our members a re right to be standing up for quality in aged care.”

Caregivers can expect to earn between $10.25 and $12.00 per hour. Many are on the minimum wage. Overtime is frequently worked but overtime and penal rates are virtually non-existent. Experienced nurses are often paid less than the new-graduate rate available to their colleagues in DHBs.

Recruitment and retention issues abound as workers head to other sectors where their skills and dedication are valued. The staff turnover in the sector is now officially referred to as “churn” and sits as high as 40%. As our population ages, fewer and fewer people are taking up the challenge of caring for older people.

“The fact that more value is placed on looking after animals or selling clothes than caring for other human beings is utterly reprehensible,” said Rob Haultain. “Our politicians must recognise this and take action. Funding is part of the solution but there must be a mechanism that ensures our taxes go to fair pay, safe staffing and quality care. Those dollars can’t simply disappear offshore.”

ENDS

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