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St Kilda Care Home reduced staff hours ‘devastating’

On Friday, NZNO Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) and E tū members at St Kilda Care Home in Cambridge, Waikato will rally against their employer’s decision to cut the number of hours for up to 40 nurses and caregivers on the staff roster.

At 2pm, members of the two unions will gather on Alan Livingstone Drive, outside the facilityto voice their frustrations against the employer, BUPA’s change proposal to reduce full time hours from 40 to 32 hours per week, split shifts for nurses and a reduced number of nurses on the floor.

E tū organiser Gill Butcher said members have described the company’s insistence on implementing the changed rosters as "devastating".

"Caregivers at St Kilda are distressed by the new roster system that's been introduced due to the serious impact it is having on the ability to provide even some of the most basic care needs to the residents, let alone their spiritual and cultural needs.

"This also has an impact on their work life balance, their family lives and mental health. Some have vulnerable family members of their own to take care of

Ms Butcher said not so long-ago nurses and caregivers in aged care were considered essential workers and then critical workers when they gave up a great deal to protect and care for the elderly during COVID.

An NZNO delegate said staff were shocked to see a proposal like this at this time when people working in aged care are so overworked and understaffed and at a time when the entire health system is screaming out for staff.

"It will obviously impact on health and safety as well as the quality of care that we are able to provide to the residents. It is very difficult to provide the care needed with the current staff numbers, and the change in hours will have a significant impact on nurse-to-patient staffing ratios reducing the figure from three nurses down to 1.5. for up to 80 residents.

"It’s a significant reduction in staffing ratios. The change will dramatically reduce the ability to provide quality care and increase the risk of events such as falls.

"What has been promised to the residents in terms of care and safety will not be able to be provided due to reduced staff."

Ms Butcher said that after the change was proposed inApril, staff were surveyed about the reduced hours. The results showed they were overwhelmingly against it, and these concerns were taken to BUPA only to be told the employer intended to continue with the reduced hours.

"We cannot let being understaffed become the norm. It will lead to staff fatigue, more sick calls, unhappy staff looking to leave for greener pastures, and unsafe staff to resident ratios.

"The sad part is that this isn't the only site at which this is happening. It's a trend that we are seeing and Friday is unfortunately just one example of a drop in standards in the sector."

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