Bupa urges more emphasis on nursing as shortage looms

Bupa Managing Director and Lead Nurse, Carolyn Cooper is urging the Government to do more to highlight nursing as a desirable career as the country faces a nursing shortage.

There are currently almost 4,000 nurses in the aged care industry overall with a vacancy rate of more than 700 nurses. Ms Cooper, who has had a long career in nursing, says the demand will continue to climb.

“We’ll need an extra 1,500 registered nurses by 2026 in the aged care industry alone. This is very serious and will impact all New Zealanders. Nursing is a workforce that needs greater planning and support from all areas to accommodate the needs of older people,” Ms Cooper says.

“Sometimes other areas of nursing are highlighted before aged care nursing and we want to see that change. Greater emphasis on nursing recruitment and training programmes in the sector will help to bring new nursing talent through the system. Our older vulnerable population deserve the best nurses to care for them”.

With a focus on education and further training, Bupa has its own professional development and recognition programme and scholarship opportunities to ensure aged care nurses are supported to upskill. This year is International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and also coincides with the 200th birthday of the famous nurse, Florence Nightingale.

Bupa recently increased its workers’ paid parental leave by 12 weeks for primary carers and two weeks for secondary carers. The company also announced last year that it would provide 20 days paid domestic violence leave to their people.

As one of the largest aged care providers in New Zealand, Bupa has implemented a collective agreement that recognised their nurses with a lift in their hourly pay rate, equalling the current pay rates of District Health Boards.

Bupa Clinical Services Director, Katherine Foulkes says it’s vital that the focus of 2020 should be on the impact nurses make on aged care every day.

“We’re really proud of our nursing team and we’ll be recognising and acknowledging their professionalism throughout the year. Nurses are the heart of a care home and we thank our nurses for their dedication,” Ms Foulkes explains.