Disability Sector is compromised by health funding
28 August 2008
Disability Sector is compromised by health funding levels
NRID, representing over 48 residential disability providers across New Zealand, is concerned about the situation facing NZCare in the current wage negotiation impasse with the PSA.
Many disability sector service providers face major challenges as they try to make ends meet in the face of wage rise expectations and rent, food and fuel cost increases. There is considerable evidence of Ministry of Health funding rises not keeping pace with the costs of meeting the care and support needs of people who experience intellectual or physical disability. The nature of this sector crisis was highlighted in the recently released Deloitte analysis.
There is positive engagement with the Ministry of Health to build a transparent pricing model but the process of building an acceptable funding formula is taking too long.
NRID service providers recognise that pay parity issues are leading to major health and disability service inequities. Over recent years wage payments for workers in DHB equivalent positions have increased at much greater rates than those for similar disability sector roles. Current funding levels are not sufficient for the disability sector to compete and wage relativity is suffering. Resulting low staff morale and high staff turnover make consistent and safe service provision even more difficult.
There is clear evidence that the level of demand for many disability services and the complexity of need particularly involving challenging behaviour is increasing. If the sector cannot afford the right staff with the skills and experience to consistently meet the range of people with disability related needs, then it will not just be NZCare that faces industrial challenge. This the second significant disability sector industrial dispute this year.