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Grey Power disappointed” on aged care provisions

Grey Power “extremely disappointed” in Budget’s aged care provisions

“Grey Power members were pleased to hear the rates rebate scheme, the older drivers regime changes confirmed and the $18.7m increase for home-based care, plus the increased cataract subsidy. This is good news for the elderly,” says Graham Stairmand, national president of the 84,000-strong New Zealand Grey Power Federation.

“But all Grey Power members, and I expect the majority of the three-quarters of a million retired New Zealanders, are extremely disappointed there was nothing in the budget to specifically address the existing crisis for aged care workers in residential care.

“The $71 million promised in the budget is not sufficient to overcome the years of under-funding, and at the same time meet the rapid growth and wage demand in the age care industry,” Mr Stairmand says.

“In fact,” he says, “almost half of the $71 million will be used to make up a shortfall in previously promised funding, and does nothing to address inflation, growth, training or improved wages in residential health care which is at the heart of the problem.

“We believe that this money will just go to District Health Board budgets and will compete with other related health services. There is no guarantee how much will actually go to aged residential care.

“The remaining $38.4 million, earmarked for elderly residential care, might hold the status quo,” says Mr Stairmand, “but this money too, must be split between a number of services, and little will be left for additional beds. Most critically, the Budget does not even consider the increasingly strident demands by the powerful nurse’s union (NZNO) for wage parity with District Health Board workers.”

“Older people have not benefited greatly in this year’s budget,” says Graham Stairmand.

(The NZ Nurses Organisation says that on average, aged care health workers are appallingly undervalued. They receive a miserly $10.80 an hour, a reason one in three are leaving the industry.)

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