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Travel costs for home care workers petition launch

Rural Women New Zealand launches petition for travel costs for home care workers

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is launching a petition calling on Parliament to urgently address problems relating to equity of access to home-based care services in rural communities, caused by the lack of reimbursement of travel costs for home-care workers.

The home-based care industry is in crisis, due to the problems of recruitment and retention of workers. Thousands of referrals a year a turned down by homecare companies due to lack of staff to provide the services due.

A Ministry of Health Survey in 2004 revealed a 39% turnover in home-based care company staff.

A major factor in the recruitment and retention problem is the continuing failure of Government to meet the travel costs of workers when delivering services to rural clients.

This has been exacerbated by rising fuel prices and is a particular problem in areas where there is alternative work available which doesn’t require travel, for example tourist areas.

While there has been a recent Budget funding increase for homecare services, this will have a minimal impact on the retention and recruitment crisis unless travel costs are also met.

After paying income tax, and deducting travel time and travel costs, we calculate the net take home pay for an average one-and-a-half hour visit is just $1.31.

No wonder the industry is in crisis!

Home based care is of vital interest to Rural Women New Zealand. Our organisation has always had a strong focus on rural health issues and supporting rural communities.

Home-based care is primarily used by elderly people who require support in order to remain in their own homes, rather than moving to residential care in larger centres. It is also used by the disabled and early discharge from hospital patients.

“We are speaking out for those who are often least able to speak out for themselves, but who are suffering as a result of the lack of homecare services,” says RWNZ President, Sherrill Dackers.


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