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Delivery Mechanism the Key to Raising Aged Care out of Poverty
Posted On: Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Health Minister Pete Hodgson's re-iteration that the 2007 Budget will increase Aged Care funding is meaningless without a mechanism to deliver that funding where it is needed most, according to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO).

Whilst indications that Aged Care will receive an urgently needed cash injection are welcomed by those working on the coalface of the sector, history tells us that feel good funding announcements have not had the intended effect because there is no robust mechanism to ensure the money reaches those who actually care for our elderly day to day.

Healthcare providers have been lobbying the Government to boost funding to cover increases in minimum leave entitlements and the minimum wage. NZNO Industrial Advisor Rob Haultain says that simply covering the minimum requirements will never deliver the top quality care aging New Zealanders deserve. "It's an absolute tragedy that Aged Care workers have to rely on the Government increasing the minimum wage to get any kind of pay rise," says Ms Haultain.

KiwiSaver, which is designed to create a practice of long term personal savings, will be of little value to these low paid workers unless the Government is able to ensure pay rates that allow for savings as well as a decent living standard. "Currently, no one will be able to afford to forego four percent of their wages -that's a lot more than most received in their last pay settlements. Working in Aged Care will become a poverty trap that everyone will try to avoid," says Ms Haultain.

NZNO and the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) are campaigning for a Fair Share for Aged Care. The unions know that the only way to deliver the care our elderly deserve is by having safe numbers of fairly paid, well trained, well resourced staff taking care of them. If the Minister is serious about changing the approach to Aged Care, he will ensure that taxpayer funding goes directly to this objective.

NZNO and SFWU are thrilled that since September 2006 the Minister has been clear about the need to address low wages in the Aged Care sector. Our message to him is that he needs to be certain that the providers have a plain, clear direction to ensure additional funding meets that need.


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