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10,000 Strong And Calling for Safe Staffing

27 August 2008

Aged Care Petition - 10,000 Strong And Calling for Safe Staffing

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) and the Service and Food Workers Union: Nga Ringa Tota (SFWU) are calling on the Government to act to address the serious need for minimum staffing levels in residential aged care facilities. Currently there are no minimum staffing levels.

Over 10,000 members of the public have signed a petition circulated by NZNO and the SFWU calling on Government to legislate for mandatory staffing levels which will assist in making rest homes and aged care hospitals not only safe places for workers but also safe places for the elderly.

"The guidelines for staffing levels currently in place mean our providers are not required to staff facilities at a level that is safe especially considering the level of care that the elderly need," Vee Bryce, an experienced caregiver working in a residential aged care facility, said today.

"Surely the urgent need for mandatory staffing levels based on what the residents need makes sense. This is about keeping the elderly safe."

NZNO Chief Executive Officer Geoff Annals said that "Indicators for Safe Staffing" in Aged Care established by the Ministry of Health in 2005 were voluntary guidelines which only recommended minimum staffing levels.

"Our experience shows that actual staffing levels routinely fall well below these and there is no way that we can enforce them. Short staffing leads to nurses and caregivers becoming overworked, stressed and unable to deliver the kind of care they know their residents deserve," he said.

"Members tell us everyday how much they love and respect their residents and how deeply it hurts that they can't deliver the kind of care they want to. Instead of just reacting to every incident that hits the news, a deliberate strategy to ensure older New Zealanders get the care they deserve is long overdue. The only way to ensure that happens is to regulate staffing numbers, address low pay, and provide training and support to the workforce," says Geoff Annals.

David Cunliffe, Minister of Health will today be accepting the petition at 12.45pm outside the main entrance to Parliament. MPs from a range of political parties will join him.


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