The overriding theme from our presenters is that Aged Care is indeed in crisis. We heard that the solution starts with staffing, the solution to staffing starts with overseas recruitment and the solution to keeping our nurses comes with Pay Parity.
The new heads of Te Whatu Ora, Health NZ, and Te Aka Whai Ora – Maori Health Authority, Margie Apa Chief Executive, Health New Zealand and Riana Manuel, Chief Executive, Māori Health Authority spoke of a structure that would deliver more essential services to more Kiwis for less money.
Grainne Moss, Chief Executive and System Lead Pay Equity, Public Service Commission gave us confidence that Pay Equity for the sector was recognised as a priority.
Dr Willem Landman, Head of Division, Waitemata DHB, Specialty Medicine & Health of Older People, spoke about the pressures our EDs are under and how the hospitals and the Aged Care facilities can work better and more efficiently together.
Alison McDonald, Deputy Secretary, Immigration New Zealand, Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, highlighted the work being done to get nurses and care workers into the sector from overseas, but left Conference acknowledging the sector isn’t entirely convinced.
Chris Fleming, former Southern DHB Chief Executive, reiterated the crisis theme, saying the sector is in a perilous state, but the Government can’t afford to pay for the sector.
Carolyn Cooper, Aged Care Commissioner, offered a ray of hope and told the delegates that the intent is on getting things done. We should celebrate the creation of the role.
Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall, Minister for COVID-19 Response, Associate Minister of Health, and Minister for Seniors reiterated Labour’s commitment to addressing Pay Parity but wouldn’t acknowledge the sector was in crisis.
At our political panel we saw Tangi Utikere, Health Select Committee Chair of the Labour Party, Dr Shane Reti, Health Spokesperson for the National Party and Brooke Van Velden, Deputy Leader of the ACT Party, discuss funding, Pay Parity, immigration, creating beds, retaining staff and valuing everyone who works in the sector. Two of our panel members agreed that we were most definitely in crisis. All three politicians know the challenges this sector faces, and that we will be in crisis if something isn’t done.
And Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Associate Professor, University of Auckland, said we are still doing the right thing to treat Covid with a huge level of caution; masks, mandates, self-isolation, vaccines, all being key in keeping our population safe from an ever-evolving virus.
Dr Paul Wood, author of the book Mental Fitness, inspired us to be the best versions of ourselves we can be.
Let’s look forward to next year when national politics will be taking centre stage, whatever the time of year, and with it we hope more recognition and support for the Aged Care sector.
The Summit was brought to you by the NZ Aged Care Association Education Trust.