Following our recent story on Australian aged care workers turning down pay offers here, we were interested to see that NZ’s number of registered nurses working in aged care has increased from 3,405 to 4,142 from 2011 to 2016.
At the same time, the general registered nurse workforce grew just 13%.
And it’s not because there are more people going into aged care.
The number of people receiving long-term hospital care – where most registered nurses are employed – increased 17%, while the number of people in residential aged care grew just 5%.
The NZ Government says the increase in nurses is a sign that they are staying ahead of the rising demand for services.
But with spending on health and disability services for the over-65 population tipped to rise to 50% of their $12B budget by 2025/26, will they be able to keep up the pace?
Staff will soon need to be paid more too.
As we reported here, NZ recently cut an equal pay deal that will see 55,000 aged care, disability and home support workers receive a pay rise of between 15 to 50% over the next five years.
John Collyns, Executive Director of NZ’s Retirement Villages Association, told us that they welcome the extra staff, but says the positions have to be adequately funded by Government.
The majority of residential care residents in NZ are subsidised by the state.
“While the sector is seeing a significant pay increase for caregivers, the increase in the subsidy isn’t sufficient to meet expectations around relativities and the staff who are still on basic wages such as cleaners, catering staff, and gardeners miss out on the increase,” he says.
It’s also raised some serious issues with equal pay for other workers. Already mental health workers have lodged a similar claim for equal pay with NZ’s Employment Relations Authority.