8 Nov 2018

Migrants not the answer to aged care workers shortage - nurses union

11:51 am on 8 November 2018

Hiring migrant workers is not the answer to a chronic shortage of rest home workers, the nurses union says.

A care worker pushes an elderly woman in a rest home out for fresh air.

Photo: 123RF

Employers want urgent changes to immigration rules to plug what they say are gaping holes in their staffing.

However, New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial adviser for aged care David Wait doesn't believe using more migrant workers is the solution.

Mr Wait said there were clear reasons why New Zealanders were not staying in the sector.

"There are New Zealand people who do want to do that work, the problem with the aged care sector in general is that pay and working conditions are poorer than those workers can get somewhere else."

Although he doesn't want to see qualified migrant workers already in the sector forced out of the country because of immigration rules.

"They've come here - they're doing a wonderful service for our community and sending people back home after three years is quite inhumane."

New Zealand Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace said the association had around 6000 caregivers who were migrants.

He said the association was worried about their futures in New Zealand.

"A number of their migrant workers are feeling unsettled by the immigration changes and the prospect they will be sent back to their country of origin."

In the next 20 years, the number of people over the age of 85 is expected to almost triple from 85,000 people to 220,000.

The aged care sector expects 1000 aged care workers per year will be needed over the next decade.

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