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Caregiver wage increases highlight broader challenges

Caregiver wage increases highlight broader challenges faced by aged care sector

“There is a need for a carefully considered solution to the pay equity issue in aged care involving all parties, including the providers of residential care in the sector,” says Simon Wallace, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA), the peak body for aged residential care providers.

This follows the announcement that aged care provider Metlifecare will fund a significant increase to its employees’ wages.

“Our Association would want to highlight the important role of caregivers in the aged care sector, and is pleased that Metlifecare has assessed it is in a financial position where it is able to support such increases to its staff.

“It is vital that aged care workers feel valued for the important job that they do to look after our elderly,” says Wallace.

“The NZACA has continued to highlight issues that underpin wage disparities in the aged care sector,” he says.

Many smaller providers, and especially ‘mum and dad’ owned aged care homes, make up a large portion of the aged care homes in New Zealand. Many of these operations continue to face on-going challenges due to limited funding.

“The NZACA is aware that the Ministry of Health is currently considering the issue of caregiver wages, as Government is a significant provider of funding to the sector,” he says.

“The issue of caregiver wages has been highlighted in the Equal Pay Case, where the Association has found itself in a challenging position. While the NZACA wholly supports equal pay for aged care workers - in fact, it ran a public campaign for pay parity for aged care workers in 2014 - the reality is that a significant increase in wages would place many aged care providers into insolvency. Any increase must be matched with an increased subsidy from Government.”

“Metlifecare has committed to increasing wages for its staff, as it is the right thing for it to do. The challenge for the aged care sector is that providers, like those who make up the NZACA’s
membership base, include large and small organisations. Different challenges, circumstances, capacity and locations play a huge part in a providers’ ability to increase wages, and as such the issue of funding for caregiver wages remains high on the NZACA’s list of priorities,” says Wallace.

“This issue will not be resolved by a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, but the aim remains the same – to recognise the important work that those who care for our elderly do every day in New Zealand whilst maintaining a quality level of care and access to aged care homes throughout New Zealand.”


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