A win win for home support

The PSA has reached a ground-breaking agreement with the government and employers that will improve the lives of home support workers and improve the chance of services being available if we need them in later life. We asked home support worker Jenny Goodman about it.

Jenny GoodmanTell me about your job

I’m a home support worker with Healthcare NZ in Christchurch. My job involves visiting people in their homes and helping with things like showering, providing medication, meal preparation, and household management. It all depends on the client’s care needs. I’ve been doing this work for 15 years.

What keeps you in your job?

The work gives me a sense of achievement.  You’re making a difference to people’s lives and helping them to be independent. It’s a more holistic approach if they are in their own home and I think it’s better for them health-wise.

It’s certainly not the wages. The only time I’ve had an increase in seven years was last year when the minimum wage went up to $14.25 and I got an extra 15 cents. That’s part because the district health board holds on to some of the funding that’s meant for home support.

Will the agreement make a difference?

I think it’s good. It will ease the financial burden for support workers who are on the minimum wage or very close to it. The best part is the payment for the time we spend travelling between clients. We have not been compensated for this in the past even though it’s part of the job.

The other positive is they are looking at guaranteed hours of work. At the moment, if a client goes into hospital, for example, our work is cut. While the company tries to replace the hours, there’s no guarantee.

We don’t know what we are going to get in our pay packets from fortnight to fortnight. I feel sorry for single mothers who are really struggling with no other income.

The PSA has reached agreement to pay home support workers for travel time, and more besides. The agreement has to be voted for by home support workers and employers. If ratified, the agreement will apply right across the home support sector.

The tabs below provide a brief summary of the main points of the agreement:


Travel between clients* From 1 July 2015, workers will be paid at least the minimum wage for travel time between clients.

Mileage allowance* From March 1 2016, workers will be paid at least 50 cents per kilometre for travel between clients. If the funding allows, this will increase to 60 cents per km on 1 July 2016.

*Travel times and distances will be based on formulas based on client postcodes.

There is agreement to “regularise” the workforce. This includes:

Guaranteed hours It is expected that by 2016 most workers will have guaranteed hours of work.

Training Employees will be trained to a level 3 qualification, to meet service needs, within their first two years.

Rates Pay scales will include rates for qualifications

Home support is an essential part of the health service and relieves the pressure on more expensive hospital care or rest-home care. The director general of health is setting up a reference group to consider these questions:

  • Future demand for services
  • Complexity of client needs
  • Future funding requirements
  • Whether the service model needs to change.

The PSA will be represented on the reference group and members will be invited to submit their views.

Contact the PSA for more information. Email enquiries@psa.org.nz or phone 0508 367 772.