The new coalition government should prepare itself for discussions with the aged care sector on the big issues of pay equity and immigration.

New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) chief executive Simon Wallace congratulates the new government and says the Association has “strong relationships” with all political parties.

“As the new Government transitions in we believe they are aware of the issues facing the sector and will be open to discussing how they can address them,” he says.

Once portfolios have been decided, the key priorities for the aged care sector that the NZACA will be discussing with the new Ministers include Pay Equity, immigration, interRAI, and the review of the ARRC contract.

Wallace says Labour has already indicated its support for the Funding Model Review and the NZACA will be seeking confirmation of the new Government’s intention to proceed with this work.

“In our pre-election meetings with Labour, NZ First and the Greens we have already outlined the impact of the Pay Equity settlement on providers and how it is threatening the sustainability of many rest homes,” says Wallace.

Care Association New Zealand (CANZ) agrees Pay Equity is a key issue.

Founder Victoria Brown says CANZ hopes that the new coalition will bring that human face back to health services and there will be a greater understanding and commitment to actually listen and hear the aged care perspective.

“CANZ believes that this was missing under the last Minister who seemed to have a dearth of understanding on major issues  – the Pay Equity Settlement a case in point. With the humanity displayed by the coalition thus far it is a more hopeful and uplifting era,” says Brown.

The Home and Community Health Association (HCHA) also welcomes the new coalition government. Chief executive Julie Haggie says New Zealand needs strategic leadership about how to meet the rapidly increasing needs of people living with disabilities and chronic conditions.

“We know that all parties were supportive of the initiatives on pay equity, guaranteed hours and in between travel time, but the problems of financial sustainability recognised in several independent reports remain unaddressed,” says Haggie.

“We are hopeful therefore, that the new government will support the full implementation of the recommendations of the Director General’s Reference Group. That includes changes in the way services are contracted.”

Haggie says funding also needs to be more closely matched to clients’ needs.

Labour and the Greens both singled out interRAI as an area for review, which the NZACA has welcomed, given providers’ push for more consistency across District Health Boards with respect to how the assessment process works.

“Immigration and current policy settings that neither value migrants nor support the retention and recruitment of these workers, will also be top of mind,” says Wallace.

Wallace says the NZACA’s Briefing to the Incoming Minister (BIM) will be on the new Minister’s desk once an appointment is made.

Meanwhile E tū, the union that represents aged care and community support workers (and other groups), says it is “ecstatic” that E tū member Jacinda Ardern will be the country’s next Prime Minister.

E tū Assistant National Secretary, John Ryall says the new government will bring a fair deal for working people and a fairer distribution of the country’s wealth.

“Our members supported change; they have campaigned for change, and they voted for change and they will be ecstatic about this outcome.”

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