‘Like eat­ing jelly with a fork’

The Northland Age - - Front Page -

North­land MP Matt King has de­scribed fight­ing for an ex­emp­tion for a health care as­sis­tant at Kaitaia’s Switzer Res­i­den­tial Care, to al­low her to stay in New Zealand, as re­peat­edly bash­ing his head into a brick wall, to no avail.

Far North Mayor John Carter said yes­ter­day it was like try­ing to eat jelly with a fork.

Mr Carter said he had ap­proached Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Iain Lees-Gal­loway sev­eral months ago, re­quest­ing a meet­ing to dis­cuss not only Juliet Garcia’s fu­ture in Kaitaia but the staffing cri­sis fac­ing the aged care sec­tor, which was heav­ily de­pen­dent upon im­mi­grants, in gen­eral. Aged Care As­so­ci­a­tion CEO Si­mon Wal­lace was to have been there too. The ini­tial re­sponse was that the re­quest was be­ing con­sid­ered, but it has now been de­clined.

“I’m very dis­ap­pointed,” Mr Carter said, al­though he would con­tinue to work with the Aged Care As­so­ci­a­tion and oth­ers in­volved in the sec­tor bring at­ten­tion to Mrs Garcia’s predica­ment, and the staffing cri­sis in gen­eral.

“The whole aged care sec­tor is on the point of col­lapse,” he said.

“I’m told that we have 3000 Juliet Gar­cias in this coun­try. These are very able, ca­pa­ble peo­ple who do a huge amount of work for the el­derly, and if they con­tinue to be told they can­not stay here we are in se­ri­ous trou­ble. The need for care, at rest home and hos­pi­tal lev­els, is grow­ing, and will con­tinue to grow, and the peo­ple who can do some­thing about ad­dress­ing that don’t even want to talk about it.

“These peo­ple have proved them­selves to be good, ca­pa­ble con­trib­u­tors to their com­mu­ni­ties and our coun­try, do­ing work that New Zealan­ders, by and large, don’t want to do. It mys­ti­fies me that Par­lia­ment, and I say Par­lia­ment, sim­ply isn’t in­ter­ested.”

He had dis­cussed the is­sue with deputy Labour Party leader Kelvin Davis and Labour list MP Wil­low-Jean Prime, but had made no progress.

The next step in Kaitaia could be to call on the com­mu­nity to show its sup­port for the town’s home, per­haps by way of a march.

“Maybe that will cap­ture some of these peo­ple’s at­ten­tion,” Mr Carter said.

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On Oc­to­ber 23 the North­land Age quoted Mr Wal­lace as say­ing that at least one rest home had had to close its hos­pi­tal wing be­cause of a short­age of regis­tered nurses, and that if the gov­ern­ment did not act there would be more. It also quoted Switzer gen­eral man­ager Jackie Simkins as say­ing the Kaitaia home, which has 51 hos­pi­tal beds, could well be one of them.

"These are very able, ca­pa­ble peo­ple who do a huge amount of work for the el­derly and if they con­tinue to be told they can­not stay here we are in se­ri­ous trou­ble. "

Far North Mayor John Carter

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