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The Aged Care Association warns that the sector is close to collapse.
Chief executive Simon Wallace says one in five vacancies are unfilled, a shortage of around 1,000 workers – and large numbers of staff are off work due to Covid-19.
While the border closures have prevented qualified nurses from coming from abroad, the pay gap is also having an impact, with nurses receiving between $15,000 and $20,000 less than their public hospital counterparts.
“There are around 40,000 beds in 650 nursing homes across the country and we have 20 of those sites that have had to close some or all of the beds, and that’s affecting older New Zealanders,” Mr Wallace said. .
While Maori occupy only about 5% of beds in nursing homes, a greater percentage of staff are Maori.