by Greta Yeoman
The aged-care facility at Radius Elloughton Gardens has come under temporary management in an attempt to improve its staffing.
The Marchwiel facility had a temporary manager appointed by the South Canterbury District Health Board, to work alongside the Radius-employed manager, on December 18.
A Radius spokesman clarified the manager still remains employed by Radius. He said Radius was unable to discuss or comment further on employment matters.
Radius Care chief operations officer Jane Smart told The Courier on Tuesday that the change affected only the aged-care facility of Elloughton Gardens, rather than the entire village and rest-home complex.
Ms Smart said the issue had come to a head in early December after the health board approached Elloughton with some concerns.
She said the August 2018 agreement between the Ministry of Health and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) had caused several of the registered nurses working in aged care to switch to higher-paying jobs within the district health board facilities.
This had caused gaps in staff numbers and some employees had been replaced by other registered nurses who either needed more training or were not necessarily from New Zealand and had taken some time to “adapt”, Ms Smart said.
The SCDHB-appointed manager – along with a training-focused clinical nurse, also appointed by the health board – would be focusing on improving the skills of staff, particularly around culture and listening.
While Ms Smart did not have the exact number of nurses working at Radius Elloughton’s aged-care facility on hand, she said staffing numbers were almost at a full team again.
Then they would “have some consistency” of staff and nurses would be able to “get to know” the residents, she said.
While Ms Smart understood why the staff had left, it had caused issues for those working at Radius Elloughton.
“Who would blame them – [it is] very understandable,” she said of staff shifts to higher-paying SCDHB roles.
When The Courier raised the question of improving conditions and pay rates for Elloughton staff, Ms Smart said it was difficult, as the board funded aged-care facilities to a particular amount per resident, per day.
While the Ministry of Health-New Zealand Nurses Organisation agreement in August had massively improved staff pay rates – by between 12.5% and 16% – for nurses employed by health boards across the country, the ministry had only offered a 2% increase for registered nurses working in aged care, Ms Smart said.
“The [pay] gap is huge.”
However, for now, the focus was on improving the skills of the staff on the ground.
Ms Smart said the management situation was “only temporary” while the workers were “consolidating as a team”.
“[It is] only temporary until things are back on track.”
She said the residents in Elloughton’s aged-care facility were “supportive” of the move.
“[We] want residents to be happy people.
“They know we really want to get things right for them.”
- Editor’s note: This story was amended on Friday (January 25) to clarify that Ms Smart did not comment on the status of the Radius manager, only on the fact the SCDHB had appointed a temporary manager in December. A Radius spokesman also clarified the manager remains employed by Radius, and said Radius was unable to discuss or comment further on employment matters.