‘Degraded’ by work in rest homes

By REBECCA TODD – New Zealand
A Christchurch resident is among a growing group of Filipino nurses working for near minimum wage as caregivers after paying thousands of dollars to live the Kiwi dream. The 25-year-old asked not to be named for fear of affecting her immigration status. After working for three years as a nurse in the Philippines, she paid $15,000 (500,000 pesos) to an agency called Golden Summit Consultancy to help her get to New Zealand.

The consultant arranged her accommodation and a 12-week Aged Care Education course at Canterbury Link College.

Ten months later, she is working as a caregiver for $13 an hour.

It was “not really clear” what kind of job she could get in New Zealand, but she was told it would be in a hospital.

“It’s frustrating because we came here with a degree and they said we would work in a hospital, but they put us in a rest home,” she said.

She knew of more than 100 other trained nurses from the Philippines working as caregivers in Christchurch.

“Every month they (recruitment agents) bring more, sometimes two times a month, and they are all nurses or physical therapists,” she said.

She said it was “degrading” and felt her skills were being wasted working in a rest home.
She achieved a score of 6.5 in the International English Language Testing System examination before coming here. This was sufficient to work in some states in Australia, but for New Zealand she needed a 7.

Most of the group of 13 she came with last year were still working as caregivers.

Christchurch-born nurse Jess Barr said even native English speakers found the English exam difficult. She had to sit the test to be registered as a nurse in Europe.

After doing some study she managed to pass, but a friend from Gisborne had failed.

New Zealand Nursing Council chief executive Marion Clark said the necessary exam score had been raised from 6.5 to 7 because the council was receiving complaints about foreign nurses not being able to communicate.

She was aware many nurses struggled to meet the new standard.

“We have rules to make sure they are safe to practise, and that includes communication skills.”

Clark had not heard of native English speakers failing to pass the exam.

The Canterbury District Health Board has 182 full-time equivalent nursing vacancies. Golden Summit Consultancy did not respond to inquiries from The Press.

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One Response to ‘Degraded’ by work in rest homes

  • Eve says:

    i am disgusted of this girl. i came to NZ about the same time as her and we are both from the same agency. We spent close to $15,000 but not all of it was for the agency. The only fee that was charged by the agency was $1,000, the rest were paid to the school, airlines, immigration, nursing council, and for IELTS assessment in the Philippines. We were advised early on that since we did not meet the Nursing Council’s 7.0 band score, we cannot practice nursing in NZ and were asked if we are willing to go to NZ anyway as healthcare assistants. All of us agreed to it and were encouraged to improve our English while here in NZ so we can sit another IELTS exam and achieve 7.0 and have the potential to earn $50,000.00. If she felt degraded, she should go back to the Philippines and carry on nursing.. If ten months later she’s still working as a caregiver, its her choice because she didnt work in improving her English and is now pointing fingers to the agency to make herself feel better. I am have been nursing in the Philippines for 23 years and had let gone a supervisory role to be here and earn 5 times more than i did over 23 years of nursing in the Philippines and although its care-giving, its a noble job that majority of us are willing to do all for the betterment of our families which by the way are now here in NZ living with me and living the Kiwi dream.

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