It’s no secret that the Aged Care sector in Aotearoa New Zealand is struggling but the Budget can help to significantly rectify this, a veteran nurse says.
The sector is in a constant fight for funding, recruiting and retaining staff, paying them a salary on par with colleagues in other sectors, and in some cases face liquidation.
Christchurch-based Aged Care nurse Liz Croton is tired of the daily battle on all fronts.
Ms Croton, who has been a nurse for 44 years, says as a result of staffing shortages, hundreds of care home beds have been forced to close.
"Due to the inability to safely staff facilities, beds are being blocked preventing admission and placing additional pressure and burden back onto other healthcare sectors, the community, whānau and wider community networks.
"We need help, and we need it now! The ageing population of New Zealand is rapidly growing, placing additional burden of caring for residents.
"The complexity of care requirements within our sector that our nurses need to manage has increased significantly over the past few years, but the current staffing allocations being funded do not always match the acuity of the resident or what is occurring within the facility at the time."
She said the situation has evolved into a crisis, but the solutions are also obvious.
"I would like the Government to get cracking and pay all nurses equally no matter where we work in New Zealand certainly bringing ARC nurses up to Te Whatu Ora wages would be an amazing start so that those nurses who apply for aged care work don't run as soon as they see the pay rates."
"Why stay in a job and get paid less and struggle with living costs when down the road they could be better off. If we lose these staff aged care cannot survive.
"I have a work mate who has just been informed her rental is being sold. She now not only has to manage the increasing cost of living but will be looking for a new rental at probably a much higher cost. This is making her think seriously about moving to a hospital for better pay so she can survive."
Ms Croton said more funding is needed to make nursing more attractive and bring new students into the profession.
"We need to pull out all the stops to grow our own culturally competent nursing workforce. Make the training free as we've done for the trades we need.
"Pay students for their placements where they can work full-time for weeks away from their homes for no pay; and this is the point where many nursing students give up their training because it is too hard. Forgive student loans in exchange for a certain number of years of service.
"Why aren't these options being explored? How else are we going to grow a workforce rapidly?"