Low wages, high workloads and stress outweigh the love of the job for New Zealand’s aged care workforce.

The findings of the inaugural 2014 New Zealand Aged Care Workforce Survey were released today, revealing that while caregivers generally enjoy their job, it is not enough to sustain New Zealand’s aged care workforce.

The survey’s lead author, Dr Katherine Ravenswood from AUT University’s New Zealand Work Research Institute, says the survey reveals an interesting picture of the typical aged care worker in New Zealand.

“The average aged care worker is female, aged over 45 and is the primary breadwinner in her family, but she earns $15 or less per hour. She sees herself as skilled but low paid and while she generally loves the work she does, her morale at work is slipping.”

The survey gathered responses from almost 900 members of the aged care workforce – nearly 600 from the home and community care sector and nearly 300 who work in residential facilities.

Ravenswood says low pay, high workloads, an ageing workforce and an increasing demand for aged care add up to a concerning picture for the sector.

“Overall, our impression is that although many caregivers love the job and have good management support, the negative aspects of their work outweighs the positives. This should be a major concern for those planning for the future of New Zealand’s aged care workforce.”

The researchers intend to update the information every two years, with the next survey to be implemented in 2016. This will allow the emerging issues to be tracked longitudinally, enabling policy makers, providers and unions to note key trends in the workforce.

The survey can be found at http://www.workresearch.aut.ac.nz/agedcareworkforce.

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