Aged Care workers shouldered a heavy burden during COVID-19, doing their utmost to provide quality care to residents while working under a staffing system which is broken. Understaffing and fatigued health workers jeopardise patient safety, our aged care staffing guidelines are 15 years out of date and unsafe staffing needs to be urgently addressed.
Our seniors and rest home care workers need government to implement evidence-based safe staffing committed to by Labour before the last election. Not doing so means residents aren’t getting the care required and it means we are risking lives and the spread of illness like COVID-19. We cannot afford to leave things as they are. Sign this open letter calling on Jacinda Ardern to show the leadership needed to ensure staff and residents are safe and well cared for – we all need safe staffing now.
To: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
When you told the country to get ready for lockdown in March, you said we’d get through this if we all came together. You asked us all to be strong and to be kind.
Aged Care workers have been doing this. But it has been tough going.
We all want the very best for residents in care facilities, but the staffing system is broken. Not enough staff means missed care or care not provided in a timely manner. There is ample evidence that understaffing leads to an increased risk of bruising, skin tears, falls, infections and medication errors. Residents’ nutritional needs not being adequately met.
We all need mandatory minimum safe staffing levels to keep our vulnerable elderly safe and to enable aged care workers to deliver quality care.
Safe staffing levels are now, shockingly, 15 years out of date. And worse, they are voluntary for aged care facilities. For us, that’s just not good enough.
We know this is a concern for you too, and we welcomed your Party's commitment in 2010 to minimum staffing levels for nurses and caregivers to be mandated in regulations1. Now it’s time to deliver on this.
Jacinda, our staffing levels in aged care are unsafe. Unsafe staffing means residents aren’t getting the care required, and that’s not the New Zealand you are trying to rebuild.
We need your leadership to help staff to do their jobs better each day, and to give our elders the quality care they’re entitled to.
We urge you to meet with Grey Power, representing the voice of our elders, and aged care unions, E tū and NZNO as soon as possible to take steps towards delivering the care New Zealanders deserve.
New Zealand’s Aged Care Workforce and Greypower.
1 "A Report into Aged Care What does the future hold for older New Zealanders?" Available at https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1010/S00249/inquiry-report-aged-care-sector-near-crisis-point.htm