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Jo Gagan fights for our Support Workers’ welfare

Newsroom is an independent, New Zealand-based news and current affairs site founded by  formers leaders of NZME The New Zealand Herald and MediaWorks TV3.  The story they ran last night on South Canterbury District Health Board highlighted how our Group, through our Chief Executive Josephine (Jo) Gagan, have been fighting for the welfare of our Support Workers:

(Excerpt from the Newsroom article)

Perversely, one of strongest defenders of the rights of Ross and her co-workers to have their terms and conditions protected is HealthCare NZ’s Jo Gagan. She argues Part 6A should apply. “These people are transitioning, and it’s an ongoing service…While technically or legally [the other providers] are not absolutely required to do that, morally in terms of what is best for clients and staff, that’s what should occur.”

She says HealthCare NZ has “made a stand” by withdrawing from the South Canterbury DHB contract, and that the rupture is part of a much wider issue of inadequate funding for home care support. “Any organisation has to make a profit. Home care providers want to innovate and improve things for the clients and the workforce, and we can’t if we are losing money on a contract.”

She says 75 percent of the people her company cares for at home have multiple health conditions. “They are very unwell, but they are living at home, and it’s cheaper for the health system for them to live at home.”

Funding ranges from $34 to $41 an hour, from which wages, administration, training, health and safety, and IT systems have to be funded. “You pay $60 to a mechanic to look after your car,” Gagan says.

She argues home care support workers should be paid penal rates for weekends and call-outs, and thinks the sector will benefit from the proposed Fair Pay Agreement regime, which will create a framework for sector-wide pay agreements.

“We really feel that a tripartite approach between providers, the unions and the Ministry of Health to come up with a standardised set of terms and conditions for the workforce just makes so much sense … What we want is to have really good terms and conditions so we can attract people into the workforce, because we can see increasing demand on the horizon through an aging population and more and more services being delivered in the community. Overseas you’re seeing virtual wards and amazing set-ups in the home. That’s the future for the home and community sector. It’s exciting and we can offer a fantastic career, but the sad reality is for many, many years it’s been very poorly paid.”

You can read the full Newsroom article here No Profit: Home Care Firm Ditches DHB | Newsroom