The number of registered nurses working in aged care facilities has increased significantly since 2011 and is “more than keeping pace” with New Zealand’s growing need for dementia, hospital and psychogeriatric care. However, could the impact of the equal pay settlement deter RNs from entering aged care nursing?

“The number of registered nurses working in aged care increased by 22 per cent between 2011 and 2016, from 3405 to 4142.  That’s a greater increase than for the general registered nursing workforce, which grew by 13 per cent over the same period,” Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner says.

“The number of people receiving longer-term hospital level care — where most registered nurses are employed — increased by 17 per cent, while the total number of people receiving aged residential care increased by just 5 per cent.

“This tell us we’re staying ahead of population growth and the rising demand for these types of services.”

However, although there is growing demand, there have been questions raised about the supply of aged care nurses. With aged care nurses falling outside the parameters of the pay equity settlement, some RNs will see their caregiver colleagues paid only marginally less than them, which could potentially serve as a deterrent for nurses considering employment in this sector.

Wagner says that by 2025/26 District Health Boards will spend half of their budget on providing health and disability services to people aged 65 years and older.

“In the last six years, the total spent by DHBs for older people’s support services, including aged residential care, home support and hospital rehabilitation, has increased by 23 per cent or $302 million. The $1.6 billion spent in the year to last July represents 10 per cent of the Government’s annual investment in health.”



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