Report calls for pay rise for carers
Sun, 27 May 2012 10:35a.m.
The author of a Human Rights Commission report on aged care says conditions in the sector are a type of modern-day slavery.
"It offends against human decency. The reliance on the emotional umbilical cord between women working as carers and the older people they care for at $13-$14 an hour is a form of modern-day slavery," Judy McGregor, an equal employment opportunities commissioner, told the Sunday Star-Times.
"It exploits the goodwill of women, it is a knowing exploitation. We can claim neither ignorance nor amnesia," she said.
The report finds carers working in private rest homes are paid less than those doing similar work in hospitals.
The commission report, Caring Counts, includes a 10-point plan based on evidence gathered from nearly 900 participants during a 12-month period in 2011-12.
Among the reports recommendations are an automatic top-10 Cabinet spot for the minister for older people, and for district health boards to be ordered to develop within three years a mechanism to achieve pay parity between their carers and those in home support and residential facilities.
The report also calls for a five-star quality assurance rating system of rest homes to be developed.
The Service and Food Workers Union, which represents workers in the sector, says the report contains no surprises and should prompt immediate action from the government, DHBs and aged care employers.
Labour and the Greens have backed the commission's recommendations.
"It's time for an across the board approach towards an aged care strategy for New Zealand. In fact, it's well overdue," Labour's aged care spokesman Kris Faafoi said.
"Everybody agrees that the wages are far too low. For goodness' sake, let's get everyone together to do something about it," Green Party Health spokesman Kevin Hague said.
Responding to leaked draft findings from the report earlier this month Prime Minister John Key said increased pay for aged care workers was unlikely to be met any time soon because of the huge cost.
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28/05/2012 10:46:28 p.m.
Anyone listen to PM on Marcus Lush radio show this morning, he simply dismissed this by saying that if NZers don't want to do this job for minimum wage we'd just have to look at bringing in the likes of Philipinos who'd be quite happy to do it for that or less. And he wonders why his shine is wearing off
28/05/2012 6:59:03 p.m.
Rest Home caregivers are unlikely to get an increse in pay despite the findings of the McGregor report. However you guarantee the politicians will get a pay rise this year, as they did last year and the year before that.
28/05/2012 3:18:52 p.m.
Many of us caregivers are now encouraged to do courses up to level 3 or 4 to improve our work practices and enhance the institutes quality of care. We were told that once we completed each level we would qualify for a pay rise. That was a great incentive. Now I get $14.30 per hour instead of just $14.00. It cost me $15.00 in petrol to the workshop and back home each time. That was about ten trips. We were never offered a training allowance. My sister does the same work in Australia, receives $24.00 per hour and was paid a training allowance of $200.00. No wonder people are leaving the country in droves.
27/05/2012 10:24:01 p.m.
The Carers do all the hard graft, and if quality care is expected then a pay rise is needed - basically you get what you pay for - even the high end so called rest homes do not provide a top quality service for their clients, as they still pay minimum wage and the food is basic. The Hospital Board pay a provider for continuing care of a patient from the hospital with a higher hourly rate for the patient, but the carer gets a fraction of the pay which a hospital Carer gets, with the minimum wage - there are one or two agenices which pay higher rates only. You only have to spend a little time in a rest home to see how much work it takes to look after the high needs elderly and special needs etc and its a fact many elderly are not getting the quality care they require or deserve because of poor wages.
27/05/2012 3:48:39 p.m.
Brian Winston Alderton wrote:
I can't disagree with the last 4 responders at all. All I can say - as a provider - we are "caught" by the very fact that in the last 17 years we have not - progressively - got the full "inflational increases" we were entitled to get - then - besotted by our - now - inability to pass on full pay rises to our staff. We - as owners - are beholden to our bankers. They all require "us" to be "posting" positive returns. It has become increasingly harder to do this in this now depressed income status. Rest home who don't have to rely upon the rest home subsidy charge $1400+ per week and "supply" similar, but not much better - if at all - than what we have to - per force - supply @ ~ $800 per week we are now getting. As a "business" we don't get "the expected" 10% ROI, on our "investment" in fact few even achieve positive returns but we are all caught up within the lifestyle - as care providers - that we can't escape without selling. Unfortunately too, that's an even harder option as I especially don't want to address as I have "the" duty of care that I can't guarantee that can be then quantified in any ordinary" business transaction.
27/05/2012 2:12:08 p.m.
Joshua B wrote:
It's really sad to see carers starting out in aged care because they feel passionate about working alongside the elderly and eventually becoming resentful of the job due to having to work double shifts to make ends meet, working extremely hard (and in some cases delivering services that would normally be in the RN scope), and getting paid so little. Workers in PRIVATE aged care homes have effectively gotten a pay cut in the last 4 years due increase in inflation and GST (and other living costs)... Our population is rising, we need to find solutions now (preferably socially progress PEOPLE centred solutions, not risk vs benefit graph based ones!)... [NB, not all aged care workers lose their passion and love of the job, but we do lose a lot of good workers (whether they stay in the job or not) due to this]
27/05/2012 12:53:09 p.m.
gerrie ligtenberg wrote:
Good to see a confirmation of what I have been saying for years, shame it takes an official report for honest hard working people to be heard!
27/05/2012 12:41:30 p.m.
FISH FACE wrote:
Yes, i totally agree. But to address this will cost money - most aged care costs are met from taxpayers money. If we are to pay carers more money, we need to pay aged care employers more money, which means more money needs to come from DHBs/Ministry of Health. This money comes from tax. The rest of us have to accept that we take home less pay (due to higher taxation) so that lower paid workers (and its not just carers, lets face it) can take home more. How many people are REALLY prepared to take home less? How many higher paid workers are prepared to trade in their flash car and house for a cheaper equivalent?
The answer for this lies with the government, to show some leadership and accept that they need to change the system .... and yes they will lose the election as a result. Show some balls John key...
27/05/2012 11:29:06 a.m.
Good grief. Is our prime minister really that stupid? does he really have no idea why the carers are so low paid? The money is already there. The government is paying more than enough to provide fair wages for carers. Legislation is needed to ensure the funding goes to the right people. Too much of the allocated funding goes to DHB's and management. In 2008 this sector received their last pay increase. The then labour government said they will increase the funding, with the condition that, DHBs and management had to show government their books, to ensure the funding was not being squandered by those at the top. they discovered there was too much money being retained by DHBs and ordered the money to go where it should. Carers received a massive increase from $10.20 to $14.00. That was the last pay rise. Now that figure is below minimum wage. There are still certain DHBs who retain this money and do not pass it on to agencies providing the service. When money does get through. the top management of these agencies are retaining another portion for themselves. the system is corrupt and needs legislation. Rest homes can comfortably afford to pay their carers $20 per hour from existing government funding.
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