In aged-care, more of the same will not be good enough

By Adeola Bamgbose, Founder, DeoCare NZ

Demand for aged-care is forecast to increase by an estimated 15,000 beds by 2030, according to research released by the New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA).

However, pay disparity issues, immigration and border closures, increased cost of living is leading many to leave the sector, creating a huge demand for registered nurses within the aged-care industry.

Over the past few months, DeoCare has been actively participating in conversations on the ground, listening to nurses as well as facility providers on finding solutions to this real-time issue faced by many within the sector.

Here are some issues that were highlighted in those conversations:

1.     Most, if not all residential facilities are speaking in one voice – they “cannot get or retain nursing staff.”

2.     According to the NZACA research, underfunding has driven a high turnover of registered nurses. We see this every day in our conversations with nurses and providers.

3.     Thanks to closed borders due to Covid, an aging population, and an increased cost of living – nurses who are available are getting snapped up quickly. These nurses are going to roles where they can obtain more competitive rates, and attain a better lifestyle i.e. less metro city or overseas like Australia.

4.     We constantly hear stories of people in the healthcare and particularly within the aged-care sector making sacrifices and compromises to keep afloat. This sometimes results in them leaving employment for a season or just never coming back.

So, are there solutions to these issues and how can facilities alleviate the stress felt by many in the sector?

While there may not be an immediate answer to these problems, we need to ask ourselves how can we be a part of the solution?

How can we make the sector more appealing?

1.     While NAZCA is actively championing this issue with the government, we need to consider alternative ways of improving pay rates and working conditions to retain staff.

2.     Offering attractive staff discounts for everything from groceries, fuel, clothing and footwear, to electronics and dining out, can ensure that the demand on the staff’s time is met with equal remuneration.

3.     We know that healthcare is 24/7, but outside our work, we need to remember that our nurses have a life, a family, and social connections that they want to maintain.

How about providing possible job sharing opportunities, or discounted childcare facilities?

We need to consider new ways of working and providing benefits that would make the roles more attractive.

In the next 6 months, as the border opens up we will have more talent coming to NZ, albeit slowly.

It is important now more than ever before for employers to remain in a competitive position to attract and retain talent.

New Zealand has an aging population and workforce, which means nurses are retiring and the workforce is not growing parallel to this shortage.

Currently the sector relies heavily on a migrant workforce with 43 percent of nurses on visas, while around one-third of the caregiver workforce is on a visa.

This is set to continue and employers need to be prepared to reactivate their overseas recruitment strategy. We have created an overview checklist of 6 Things to Keep in Mind When Hiring Medical Practitioners from Overseas.

At DeoCare NZ, we understand how difficult the past few months have been for you and your organisation. It is our mission to work with you to find a solution.

We are a specialised healthcare recruitment and staffing agency providing community, health, and aged-care staffing solutions throughout New Zealand.

Our experience makes us passionate about connecting caring employers to caring people which means we go the extra mile to find good quality, reliable staff.

If you would like to recruit and attract staff to grow your organisation, get in touch with us and we’ll help you find the right person from our pool of over career-focused healthcare professionals.

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