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Lifting Covid restrictions provides immediate relief for support workers & carer shortage

NZHG - Josephine Gagan

Josephine Gagan, CEO of New Zealand Health Group, the country’s largest provider of home and community support services, has welcomed the Government’s decision today to drop the Covid-19 protection framework.

“The dropping of the vaccine and seven-day isolation mandates for household contacts will make an enormous difference to the home and community sector and alleviate a lot of the pressure on our ability to cover the shifts at the last minute.

“Importantly it means hundreds, if not thousands, of qualified support workers and carers across the sector who are not fully vaccinated can now return to care for our vulnerable Kiwis. It also puts an end to a lot of the last-minute rescheduling of shifts that have been required because a carer suddenly needs to isolate for seven days.

“New Zealand Health Group has around 700 – 800 qualified support workers who were impacted by the vaccine mandate. We’ve talked to many of them who’ve told us they want to come back to work,” said Ms Gagan. “We’ve also had a lot of clients and their whānau say they’d be more than happy to have a carer who isn’t fully vaccinated but who wears appropriate PPE gear if it means they can get the support and care they need to live well in their own home.

“The shift in vaccine settings alone will mean at least an additional 16,000 hours of skilled home-based care can be offered every week to those Kiwis who need it.

“While the dropping of the Covid-19 Protection Framework won’t solve the significant sector-wide staffing shortage, it will go a long way in helping us to make sure our vulnerable Kiwis are not left wondering whether or not they’ll get the care they need to have a shower or get out of bed to go to work,” said Ms Gagan.