Recent media coverage about staffing shortages threatening the operation and viability of one of our district's much-loved and respected aged care providers, Kaitaia's Claud Switzer Home, was right on the mark.

The shortage of nursing staff qualified to care for our elderly is a real issue for everyone at or approaching retirement age in Northland, or anyone with a loved one in that category.

Fortunately, Kerikeri Retirement Village can source just enough capable people. But only just — believe me when I say it's an issue we have to deal with on a monthly basis.

It's clear that New Zealand faces a chronic skills shortage in aged care. In the short term we need to encourage suitably-skilled migrants — not deport them. In the longer term we should be equipping Kiwis to enter the sector.

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We need the Immigration Minister to put healthcare assistants and registered nurses back up the register of priority skills shortages.

FNDC projects a 52 per cent growth in over-65s living in the Far North in the next decade, with a quadrupling of those over 85 in the next 20 years. We continue to advocate for co-ordinated thinking around how our district is going to cope with this Silver Tsunami heading our way.

We'd love to see organisations like our regional council, the Northland DHB, NorthTec and Grey Power join our aged care industry bodies and the Far North District Council in lobbying Immigration New Zealand, the Ministry of Education and others to address this burning issue.

HILARY SUMPTER
Chief Executive, Kerikeri Retirement Village