The country's aged care workers are mostly older women who feel over-worked and underpaid, a survey has found.
The AUT University survey, the first independent survey of aged-care workers, has found that almost half of rest-home caregivers and more than three-quarters of homecare workers supporting the elderly are themselves aged 50 or over.
More than a third of the rest-home caregivers, and three-quarters of the homecare workers, earned below $15 an hour when the survey was taken between April and June last year.
Just over half (56 per cent) of the rest-home caregivers said they felt under pressure to work harder, although only 35 per cent of homecare workers felt that way.
Petria Malloch, 37, a caregiver earning $15.05 an hour at a hospital in Auckland's Selwyn Village, said she was "always rushing".
"It's really, really hard when a resident is saying, 'Please sit with me'," she said.
"You really want to be able to give them five minutes, but you've got to rush off and do something else."
An analysis by accounting firm Deloitte for the Home and Community Health Association, also released today, has found that most homecare companies have cut co-ordinator jobs to cope with funding increases that have fallen slightly behind minimum wage increases over the past seven years. One of the six companies in the analysis stopped all pay rises for some staff, and two stopped granting performance pay or reviews. Three of the six companies made losses and one is technically bankrupt with more liabilities than assets.
Association chief executive Julie Haggie said the low pay rates were causing staff shortages.
"Everywhere, all over the country, people are reporting shortages. They just can't find workers."
The AUT survey found that 83 per cent of homecare workers were dissatisfied with their wages. Yet surprisingly, 76 per cent of homecare workers and 69 per cent of caregivers in rest-homes and hospitals were satisfied with their jobs.
"I love my job," Ms Malloch said. "It's a very rewarding job. But it would make it a lot easier to feel valued and to stay if we were paid more."