Lack of resources 'soul-destroying', healthcare workers say in roadshow
Patients are being left cold and uncomfortable, as a lack of funding affects staff numbers and resources, say health workers.
Healthcare assistant Bev Watt worked in an aged care facility on Auckland's North Shore and said the effect of low staff and funding is "soul-destroying".
Watt has worked in aged care for 24 years and said the ratio of workers to patients has decreased in her time.
"The needs of the residents have gone up, but we feel the funding is not meeting their needs," Watt said.
"They are coming to us sicker than before and now their needs are more complex."
The Mairangi Bay resident said, because of a lack of funding, resources have to be closely monitored.
"It's pretty soul-destroying if a person asks for an extra pillow and we can't give it to them because we don't have them."
Watt was at a March 25 roadshow event outside North Shore Hospital, as part of the Public Service Association's national Yes We Care campaign.
The roadshow started on March 4 in Bluff and finishes in Cape Reinga on March 29.
It comprises community members and healthcare professionals campaigning for increased health funding. They use 200 life-size cutouts, each the equivalent of 100 health workers, to represent the 20,000 extra healthcare staff New Zealand needs.
Another healthcare assistant at the North Shore Hospital event, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he is often the only support worker on the floor, so is forced to chose between patients daily.
"I'll have one patient who's walking who needs assistance and another who needs helping to go to the toilet. I have to chose between the two," he said.
A shortage of staff also affected patients' health because he can only help feed so many people in one shift, he said.
"People are being affected as far as not getting the right nutrition and not being able to get better because they can't get the right nutrition."
Not being able to help their patients also takes a toll on workers, he said.
"People don't generally work in health for the money. They work there because of a passion for people and when you aren't capable of providing the care it does affect you mentally."
Resources are also stretched.
"I have to tell patients we don't have any blankets left. They have to be cold the whole night."
On a daily basis, Watt is responsible for showering and dressing residents, skin care and oral hygiene, bed-making, and feeding residents, to name a few responsibilities.
The high level of care means she doesn't have time to sit and talk with residents and keep them company, Watt said.
"What I'd like to see is an increase in funding for aged care because our residents' needs are so much higher."
The other healthcare worker said he'd like to see funding reach a level that illustrates healthcare is a priority so New Zealanders can get the "care and respect they deserve".
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said better health services is the Government's number one funding priority and Waitemata District Health Board has received an extra $409 million in funding over the past eight years, including $51 million in the 2016 budget.
"The new Health Strategy sets the direction for a more integrated and patient-centred system. We want more services delivered in the community, with more prevention and self-management," Coleman said
He said employment matters would be best directed to DHBs.