Thursday, May 10, 2007

MPs shocked about the predictable effects of their policies

Some of the companies contracted to do disability support are doing a terrible job:

For instance, one client was entitled to 20 hours but only saw a care worker for 15 hours which had left the person wondering what happened to the funding for the other five hours.

The society also revealed a single parent had been left for five days without a carer. She had required a hoist to get out of bed and needed someone to help with personal care which had been left to a 14-year-old daughter.

In another case a couple which needed help getting three meals a day had been left for four days without food.
They have an excuse:
Agencies were complaining they could not find enough staff, and had reported difficulty finding workers who could work late afternoons, evenings and weekends to provide meals.
There are a few words missing there: "when they pay near minimum wage." The problem isn't an absence of people who can do the work and the hours. It's that the wages are terrible.

The MPs who were shocked, shocked I tell you, are either fools or liars (usually both). When you subcontract services out to companies with the lowest tender you drive down wags. In fact that's usually one of the main points of this subcontracting.


  1. Anonymous1:31 am

    As well as the appalling low wages, another problem is the way that part time wages affect unemployment benefits. Because there are so many agencies now, and the contracts are spread out amongst them (at least this is true in rural and smaller centres) it can mean that workers can't be offered enough hours to make it worth getting off the benefit. I've known of home care workers who end up working for essentially no extra money than they get from their benefit (because of how ISS deducts from benefits for income earned). The agencies largely are in denial about this and tend to imply that beneficiaries don't want the work.

    It's a worry that there is so much emphasis in that article about the Health and Disability Commissioner. I doubt that they can address issues of underfunding so all those complaints are just going to tie up further govt resources but do little to change the underlying problems in the short or medium term.

    Plus, taking a complaint to the HDC is time and energy consuming. Most people who need homehelp are probably going to find that really hard.

    If MPs really don't understand the underlying problems here then they're listening the wrong people. Although I tend to agree Maia - they're fools or liars. This is an old issue and there's been adequate time for people to know what has been going on.

  2. Anonymous9:55 pm

    Mia, it's a lot more expensive to loose a contract than it is to provide minimum wage staff.

    Ergo, these providers had plenty of incentive to maintain standards.

    Oh the other hand, it would hurt no one for standards to increase. Current funding is bare-bone I understand and should be boosted.

  3. Anonymous6:12 pm

    Good call, Maia.