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Acute staff shortages undermine assessment plan

Steve CHADWICK

Senior Citizens Spokesperson
Health (Aged Care) Spokesperson

30 August 2011
MEDIA STATEMENT

Acute staff shortages undermine assessment plan

News that National will invest 11 million dollars in clinical assessments for those in aged residential care ignores a grim reality facing the sector--- that there is a critical shortage of qualified staff, says Labour’s Senior Citizens and Aged Care spokesperson Steve Chadwick.

“Labour does not dispute that this system, used internationally, can benefit those in residential care, but the government continues to ignore the practicalities of its implementation,” Steve Chadwick said.

“Following discussions at the New Zealand Aged Care Association Conference today in Auckland it is clear to me that the sector is struggling to grapple with a shortage in staff with the skills and knowledge to undertake routine tasks, let alone a new assessment system.

“The Government’s proposal suggests residents will be assessed at least every six months or whenever there is a significant change in condition. The reality is, the needs of these residents change frequently and with already stretched resources the sector will not keep up without additional and substantial support.

“One of Labour’s first priorities as outlined in the recommendations of the Labour/Green inquiry into aged care --- What the Future Holds for Older New Zealanders --- would be to establish an expert working party which would cost and apply recommendations such as government funded training for all aged care staff, minimum staffing levels for nurses and caregivers and pay parity for aged carers.

“These are practical measures aimed at supporting the sector and bolstering qualified staff. Families need assurances that their family member is being cared for by a team that is trained, competent and adequately remunerated.

“It’s no wonder the residential care sector is struggling to keep staff. Nurses in aged care typically have greater responsibility than those in public hospitals, are paid less and lack the onsite support from doctors and pharmacists.

“Labour has a strategic long-term plan while National continues to play catch-up,” Steve Chadwick said.

ENDS

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