Aged care provider Enliven Retirement Homes charging families $10pp for its own form of vaccine pass

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Staff shortages have prompted one aged care provider to introduce its own form of vaccine pass so people can visit their older loved ones over the holidays.

Vaccine Pass Requirement Sign

File image. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Enliven Retirement Homes, which operate 14 sites across the North Island, is charging families $10 per person for vaccine passes on lanyards and access to their family outside of normal reception hours.

It says it can not afford to hire staff specifically to check visitors’ vaccine passes outside of normal reception hours.

The ID card includes a copy of their vaccine pass, their name, and a photo on a lanyard which visitors can wear in the homes as proof they are fully vaccinated.

Those who don not buy the lanyard are only able to visit Enliven homes during reception hours so a staff member can check their vaccine pass.

A spokesperson for Enliven said it considered keeping a staff member on the door at all times.

“But the problem is that it meant the staff are then taken away from providing care and support to residents, which is far from ideal. We even considered employing additional security staff but as a charity it was simply cost prohibitive.”

Aged Care Association chief executive said Simon Wallace the lanyard passes were symptomatic of the sectors staffing issues.

“[The sector] has been historically underfunded. The government pays the wages of aged residential care staff, it’s a government funded sector and we are really short of staff,” he said.

At a Wellington Enliven home, reception is open for six hours between 9am and 5pm during weekdays and just three hours on Saturdays.

Roy Reid from elderly advocacy group Grey Power agreed with the staffing shortage concerns

“But it’s also placing a burden on families for eve member that wishes to visit, and that could be quite hard on a lot of families” he said.

Other rest home groups, Oceania Healthcare and Metlife Care, have not introduced the alternative pass.

The response from most families had been positive, “once they undersigned the position Enliven is in”, a spokesperson said.

The retirement home group also said that people liked having a printed card with their vaccine pass on it, and had been taking it to other places, such as cafes.

The Ministry of Health was aware of the passes and said it could not comment on Enliven charging for the photo identification cards, but “any attempt to charge for my vaccine pass services is not legitimate”.

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