Nursing, aged-care sectors say Government's temporary changes to relieve workforce shortages will have little impact

The nursing and aged-care sectors are "immensely frustrated" by the Government's latest initiative to help relieve workforce shortages, with some claiming it'll have little to no impact.

Temporary changes to our immigration rules were announced on Sunday, but it's just a drop in the bucket.

Birchleigh Residential Care Centre in Mosgiel has been providing people with a 'home away from home' for more than 30 years.

But like many aged-care facilities around the country, it's facing a staffing crisis and is frustrated with the continued lack of action to help.

"We feel just completed neglected... the oldies just feel like they've been thrown on the scrap heap," said Birchleigh Residential Care Centre chief executive Malcolm Hendry.

In the past six months, rest homes have been forced to reduce the number of available beds by more than 1000 due to staffing shortages, and the sector requires 1200 more nurses to continue providing adequate care.

"Yes we've had struggles before but this is by far the deepest and most prolonged crisis that the industry has faced... and it's not just now it's the future that I'm really concerned about," Hendry said.

And with good reason. Over the next 20 years, the population over the age of 85 is set to double.

Those bearing the brunt of the shortage say the temporary changes announced by the Immigration Minister don't go far enough.

"We would have liked to have seen an announcement around nurses, for nurses to be given immediate residency," said New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) CEO Simon Wallace.

"We're a nursing-led organisation and sector and without the proper cover, we can't continue to function as we should. Immigration will help but predominantly it's a pay parity issue with nurses working in the public sector," Hendry added.

The Nurse's Organisation (NZNO) said it's incredibly disheartening.

"Clearly there's no one listening to nurses so maybe if the consumers themselves start to speak out about how significantly it's impacting on the quality of life for their loved ones and most vulnerable patients then maybe something more meaningful will happen," NZNO kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said.

Because until then, beds and facilities will continue to close, opening up even more problems for the sector.

"Those residents are being relocated away from family or into a public hospital and neither are appropriate. They're putting the welfare of the elderly and most vulnerable at great risk," Hendry said.

And he warns the risk will continue until a long-term fix can be found.