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NZNO charter misses point

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Nurses' Organisation has missed the point in their "Aged Care Charter" they are to present to Parliament tomorrow.

The Nurses' union charter ignores the major crisis facing the aged care sector - an imminent shortage of beds and an aging population - and instead presents ideas that will not improve the level of care for the elderly nor address the key issues facing this industry.

The New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA), says the critical issues facing the sector were set out in a joint review carried out by the NZACA and District Health Boards in September 2010.

The findings of the 2010 review have been ignored by the Nurses' union, the Chief Executive of the NZACA, Martin Taylor, said today.

"The reality is that future governments will have to allocate millions of dollars to encourage private sector investors to build modern new facilities and increase the number of beds in order to meet the demand from a rapidly aging population," Mr Taylor said.

"That is the critical issue currently facing New Zealand as set out in the Aged Residential Care Review released last year, not the out-dated proposals put forward by the Nurses' union."

"The union is promoting policies which have failed and will continue to fail, such as the call for mandatory staffing ratios. The nurses have forgotten that the Labour Government in 2003 removed mandatory staffing ratios with the introduction of the Health and Disability Services (Safety) Act because there was and remains no evidence that staffing ratios result in better care."

Mandatory staffing ratios ignore the reality that every rest home has a different layout, a different mix of residents with a different mix of care needs. One size does not fit all. Their approach is simplistic and would remove the constant re-evaluation of staffing levels that currently go on to ensure individual rest homes' needs are catered for.

The nurses are also calling for a "nationally recognised training and education programme" but in doing so they ignore the reality that the Aged Residential Care Contract has mandatory education requirements and the sector currently has level 2, 3 and 4 NZQA recognised training programmes.

"The nurses' union continues to claim there is no training in the sector, despite knowing that they are misleading the public. They also know the current contractual obligations have been in place for a decade and that the current NZQA training programs have the support of both main political parties," Mr Taylor added.

The New Zealand Aged Care Association says the Nurses union must be supportive of the need for pay parity between the public and the private health sectors. "While our members support being funded at a higher level so they can pay higher wages, it is interesting to note that when Labour was in government and running billion-dollar surpluses, they refused to support pay parity."

It is unlikely that any government will do this when it is running billion-dollar deficits, but this would be a call that the NZACA and the Nurses union should agree on," Mr Taylor said.

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