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Too late to shut the stable door

1 July 2008

Too late to shut the stable door

The call by aged care providers for sacked caregivers to be "named and shamed" is a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, says the Union representing caregivers at the embattled Belhaven Rest Home in Auckland.

Service and Food Workers Northern Region Secretary Jill Ovens says the emphasis should be on training and systems in place to prevent abuse happening in the first place.

"There is training available to caregivers through NZQA but the take-up is low because of a lack of commitment by providers and because caregivers are too often not rewarded for gaining qualifications."

Ms Ovens says another problem in aged care is understaffing and low pay. This is especially so in small stand-alone aged care homes.

"Caregivers can be paid as little as $12.55 an hour and they work under huge stress because there are so few staff on duty at any one time."

Ms Ovens says Union members do not condone abuse of elders.

"The Union's role is to ensure proper process when workers are accused of breaches."

Ms Ovens says the call for separate processes for caregivers would require setting up much more sophisticated investigatory bodies like the Medical Practitioners Council which oversees breaches in practice by doctors and nurses.

"You couldn't rely on disciplinary processes of individual employers if you're going to go out naming and shaming. There would need to be proper processes in place.

"These are already available if a criminal act has been committed. The Police will investigate and take it to Court if there are grounds. At that point, the person's name is rightly made public."


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