The number of new nurses being employed by rest homes and aged care hospitals through mentored new graduate programmes has fallen this year, despite keen applicants still job-hunting.
Statistics released by the Ministry of Health today show that as at 1 March the aged residential care sector had only employed 16 new graduates into the NETP (nursing entry to practice) programme, compared with about 30 at a similar time last year. Meanwhile seven applicants keen to gain an NETP place in the aged residential care sector were still job-hunting.
Concern was expressed last year by the nurses' union New Zealand Nursing Organisation at the high numbers of new nurses being employed into a sector with low nurse ratios and high levels of responsibility without the support of a NETP programme that provides registered nurse mentoring and structured professional development for the novice nurses. This was in response to a graduate survey by NETS (Nursing Education in the Tertiary Sector) in early 2016 that showed around 90 new graduates were working in the continuing care elderly (aged residential care) sector but only about 30 were thought to be employed under a supported NETP programme
Ministry of Health chief nursing officer Dr Jane O'Malley said caution was needed when comparing data at one point in time as it was aware from previous applicant rounds that the aged care sector continued to recruit new graduates from the talent pool.
She also said while the number of new graduates in aged residential care remained relatively low, the combined number applying to work in either the Older People in District Health Board or the aged care residential setting had increased from 36 in 2014 to 38 in 2015 and 42 last year.
"While more preferring to work in these settings is a positive trend, seven graduates who indicated a preference to work in aged residential care remain on the talent pool (as at 1 March 2017), showing there is more work to be done to support recruitment."
She said the Office of the Chief Nursing Officer continued to work with DHBs and the aged care sector on ensuring a sufficient workforce is attracted to this speciality area of practice.
The number of applicants who won NETP places in the Health of Older People within the DHB setting, as at March 1 this year, was 17 compared to 18 at around the same time last year.