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All care, no responsibility and very little dosh


Wednesday, 27 October, 2004

Alexander: All care, no responsibility and very little dosh

Care workers looking after the nation's elderly both in their own homes and in institutions are getting a raw deal - and as a result the elderly themselves are suffering and will suffer more, United Future's Marc Alexander said today.

"There is virtually no pay parity among care workers across the whole sector, from residential care to home care to private hospitals - but the one common factor is that the pay rates are appallingly low.

"This means you have an industry with incredibly high staff turnover and an inability to attract new staff," Mr Alexander, United Future's senior citizens spokesman, said.

"They often get no penal rates for weekend or shift work - unlike DHB health aides who are often doing similar work. They often work irregular and inconsistent hours, making it difficult for them to plan their own lives and finances properly.

"Some recent reports indicate that only about 10 percent of those who initially inquire into care jobs actually start, and up to 50 percent of new-starts leave within the first two months. Any industry with that kind of retention problem needs to take a long, hard look at itself.

"It's the old 'pay peanuts, get monkeys' approach - and it is hugely disrespectful of often very committed individuals who want to work with the elderly, not to mention the elderly themselves, who deserve to be given a higher place in society's order of priorities than this.

"Their care is jeopardised, corners are cut when there are not enough staff," he said.

ENDS

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