Some good news for aged care sec­tor

The Northland Age - - Local News -

The New Zealand Aged Care As­so­ci­a­tion has ap­plauded the govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to add aged care nurses to the long-term skills short­age list as a pos­i­tive step to­wards ad­dress­ing chronic nurs­ing short­ages.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Wallace said Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Iain LeesGal­loway’s de­ci­sion would al­low rest home providers to more ef­fi­ciently re­cruit over­seas nurses as a time when they were strug­gling to re­tain their nurse work­force.

“We have lob­bied hard for this over the last 18 months with the val­ued sup­port of DHBs, Health Work­force New Zealand and the Nurs­ing Gov­er­nance Group, among others. The govern­ment has lis­tened to our voice, re­sponded responsibl­y, and we wel­come that,” Mr Wallace said.

The long term skills short­age list (LTSSL) iden­ti­fies skilled oc­cu­pa­tions where there is a sus­tained and on­go­ing short­age of work­ers, in New Zealand and glob­ally. Those em­ployed in one of those oc­cu­pa­tions may ap­ply for res­i­dence af­ter two years work­ing in a LTSSL oc­cu­pa­tion un­der spe­cific cri­te­ria.

Mr Wallace said the pre­vi­ous govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to re­move aged care nurses from the LTSSL had ex­ac­er­bated on­go­ing short­ages, re­mov­ing path­ways to res­i­dency, leav­ing over­seas nurses un­cer­tain about their fu­ture in New Zealand and feel­ing un­der­val­ued, de­spite their im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to New Zealand’s in­dus­try and so­ci­ety.

“Our mem­bers rely heav­ily on be­ing able to re­cruit and re­tain over­seas nurses to be able to pro­vide the high­estqual­ity care for our most vul­ner­a­ble older peo­ple, but there are sim­ply not enough reg­is­tered nurses avail­able, and at a time when we are now los­ing nurses to DHBs in the wake of last year’s pay set­tle­ment, this de­ci­sion is a life­line,” he said.

Mean­while the Min­is­ter said skills short­ages lists were now more re­gion­alised, to re­flect what skills were needed where, and to show New Zealan­ders and tem­po­rary mi­grants where there were op­por­tu­ni­ties are for work in the prov­inces.

Early child­hood, pri­mary and sec­ondary teach­ing had been added to the lists in all re­gions, with aged care (reg­is­tered) nurses added to the long-term list and ‘build­ing as­so­ciate’ added to the con­struc­tion skills short­age list. Switzer Res­i­den­tial Care gen­eral man­ager Jackie Simkins was de­lighted to hear that reg­is­tered nurs­ing in the aged car sec­tor had been added to Im­mi­gra­tion’s skills short­age list.

Switzer had filled five reg­is­tered nurse po­si­tions that had be­come va­cant over the last three months of 2018, all from over­seas, but she had no doubt that the change would be of great value in the fu­ture.

The de­ci­sion would not, how­ever, ben­e­fit health care as­sis­tant Juliet Gar­cia, who, as the sit­u­a­tion stood, would have to leave her job of 12 years, and the coun­try, in July.

The Claud Switzer Trust, Mayor John Carter, Na­tional MP Matt King and others, had been fight­ing for Mrs Gar­cia, who is in­el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for res­i­dence (since a rule change in 2016), without success so far.

“We haven’t given up though,” Mrs Simkins said.

“That bat­tle will re­sume shortly.”

Switzer Res­i­den­tial Care should find it eas­ier to re­cruit reg­is­tered nurses from over­seas thanks to a change in Im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.

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