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Source: Public Service Association (PSA)

A change in private providers delivering home support services is leaving care and support workers and their clients in the lurch.

South Canterbury DHB contracts home support services to private providers and is in the process of moving clients from the current provider HCNZ to different providers, leaving chaos in its wake. Home support is essential work and the DHB is turning a blind eye to the impact these changes will have.

PSA assistant secretary Melissa Woolley says, “The situation for workers and clients in Timaru is a disaster waiting to happen. It is inevitable that vulnerable clients will fall through the cracks and low paid working women will find their work becoming even more precarious than it is now. The people involved in this situation deserve to be treated with dignity. At the moment it’s a dog’s breakfast.”

The new providers will not commit to transferring the employment of home support workers from HCNZ to the new providers.

Workers and clients are left not knowing who will delivering their home support. This means the relationship between clients and the support worker is broken, an extremely distressing situation, given the personal nature of the care and support provided.

Home support workers do not know whether they have a job or where they will go, what their pay or conditions will be, or how many employers they might end up working for.

The union is extremely disappointed that the funder of home care services in the region, South Canterbury DHB, has refused to take leadership. Other DHBs in similar situations have taken a different approach.

Woolley says, “South Canterbury DHB needs to step up and provide a smooth transition for workers and clients alike. Leaving this process to a private ‘market’ means they have abrogated their responsibility to provide health care services to the population it serves.”

“We are calling for South Canterbury DHB to provide leadership on a transition plan, agreed with unions, to ensure workers transfer over to incoming employers on same terms and conditions and to retain the existing workforce.”

MIL OSI