Night rates may impact on disabled

Wendy Halsey
Wendy Halsey
Services provided to those with disabilities may be radically changed because of the agreement to pay the minimum wage to night carers, the head of a Dunedin community care provider says.

Corstorphine Community Baptist Trust chief executive Wendy Halsey said paying night carers the minimum wage could presage a move towards more institutional care, rather than the community-centred houses now favoured.

No-one appeared to have consulted those most affected by any changes - the service users.

She supported workers being paid more, but the decision would have greater flow-on effects than people realised, and would not be positive for those in care.

"Services may move away from the way it's been provided and develop new ways which avoid lots of sleepovers," Ms Halsey said.

The legislation, promised before the election, was urgently needed to confirm and clarify what community care providers would pay, and which providers were eligible for $117 million the Government would provide for increased wages and back-pay, Ms Halsey said.

The Government and IHC service provider arm, Idea Services, have withdrawn a Supreme Court appeal after reaching a deal with unions.

Community employers were "piggy in the middle" at present, and faced negotiating care contracts in a period of uncertainty.

The trust had no extra money for backpay, Ms Halsey said.

Contracts with DHBs had been negotiated based on the conditions of the time, so it was far from clear the providers had responsibility for back-pay.

Southern District Health Board funding and finance general manager Robert Mackway-Jones said the additional wage costs were going to pose "great difficulties" for some providers.

However, it was positive the Government was stepping in to pay half of the extra cost.




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