Funding shortfall endangering care of elderly

File photo.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) is calling for increased funding for Aged Residential Care in Budget 2024.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku fears that funds allocated to the Aged Residential Care sector in the Budget will remain inadequate, as has happened repeatedly in the past.

"Our health system is still in a stage of severe crisis. It makes no sense to prioritise tax cuts over funding increases to health," says Kerri.

"Aged residential care is funded at a rate that is set annually by the Government but ongoing underfunding in this area has become unsustainable.

"Funding should be set aside for culturally appropriate staff-to-resident ratios based on the necessary skills to meet the needs of residents."

NZNO receives regular feedback from members working in Aged Care who say that staff-to-resident ratios are being stretched to breaking point due to staff reductions following facility restructures.

One care worker who wishes to remain anonymous says the strain is tangible, with a noticeable increase in staff turnover.

"Staff-to-resident ratios can be seven to one in a dementia unit. Night staff are stretched thin and are only managing minimal care leading to residents often remaining in soiled beds for hours."

Kerri says minimum staff-to-resident ratios for Aged Care have now been mandated in Australia and the USA and the Government should do the same in New Zealand.

"Getting legally required nurse-to-patient ratios across all nursing sectors is a top priority for NZNO. We are also bringing culturally appropriate nurse-to-patient ratios based on skill mix to the bargaining table," says Kerri.

"We want our elderly to receive good care. This cannot be managed with ongoing underfunding in this sector and the resulting staff reductions that compromise the quality of patient care.

"NZNO is calling on the Government to include increased funding in the Budget for this sector and to bring a halt to declining levels of patient care and aged care worker wellbeing."


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