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Aged Care "Woefully Inadequate" - Kedgley

Scoop Audio: Labour-Greens Launch Report On Aged Care

A cross-party inquiry into New Zealand’s rest homes has found “woefully inadequate” levels of care, Green MP Sue Kedgley says.

Kedgley told Grey Power members at the launch of the Labour-Greens report Monday there was an acute shortage of staff in aged care facilities.

The shortage of trained nurses in the sector meant most of the workload fell to caregivers, she said, who had no minimum requirements for training or qualifications.

“Caregivers are doing 90 percent of the work or more in aged care and unfortunately many of them have not been given the training that they need to deal with older, frailer and more vulnerable residents.”

“Some caregivers told us that they were advised by their managers not to talk to residents because they said it was not in their job description – and anyway there simply isn’t enough time to carry out even the most basic of chores.”

Meanwhile many nurses dreaded working weekends because of the “dangerous lack of staff”.

These high workloads often resulted in stress levels and burnout rates and mistakes, she said.

Surprisingly, much of the data in the report suggests its own authors are partly to blame.

The report found public spending on pensions, home help and residential services for the elderly dropped from 5.2 percent of GDP in 1998 to 4.2 percent in 2005 – well into Labour’s second term.
It was also Labour who dropped mandatory minimum staffing levels when it deregulated the sector in 2002.

But Kedgley said she considered some criticisms of the report to be petty political point-scoring.

She said the sector’s problems had emerged under successive governments over many years and her colleagues had set out to avoid party politics in the report.

“The reality is that unless we address the issues that we have raised in this report the sector will simply continue to lurch from crisis to crisis; from media scandal to media scandal.”

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