New Zealand is facing a severe shortage of aged care nurses as the health sector struggles to meet the demands of an increasingly aging population with specialized needs. The professional nursing workforce continues to decline, leading to an increased reliance on overseas recruitment and the absence of core nursing skills in many parts of the country.
A recent survey conducted by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation revealed that over half of responding registered nurses and enrolled nurses said there were insufficient staff available to provide safe and quality care. To address this issue, government initiatives have been launched to encourage more young people to pursue a career in nursing and support current practitioners. These strategies include providing enhanced scholarships for pre-registration programmes, offering flexible learning options for those already employed in the field, as well as introducing temporary visa schemes for qualified overseas workers.
However, Hilary Sumpter, Chief Executive of Kerikeri Retirement Village, has stated that these measures are not enough and that the shortage is hobbling the aged care sector particularly those operating outside Auckland. For years, the Government has paid nurses in mainstream hospitals more than those in rest homes and aged care facilities, leading NZ to rely on immigration to get needed staff – until Covid-19 hit and border closures changed this dynamic. Now there has been a surge of New Zealanders wanting to get into nursing but due to a qualification process that takes several long years, carers are still desperately needed today fill the gaps.
To ensure future generations can access the kind of health care they deserve we must make investment into education and workplace training opportunities so the next generation of nurses have the necessary skillset to manage their ever-evolving roles within our health care system.
Vandana Rai is a Senior Licensed Immigration Adviser and has built a reputation around her rare set of skills, which could be considered ideal for her legal profession.