3000 aged care workers call for ‘big picture’ overhaul

Almost 3000 aged care workers are demanding a fundamental shake-up of aged care ahead of this week’s hand over of the Aged Care Royal Commission final report.

 

In a survey, aged care workers called for a “big picture” overhaul as they identified serious issues affecting the care and safety of older Australians in aged care facilities including:

  • Four in five aged care workers say older Australians are not getting the quality care they deserve in their facility because of under-staffing.
  • Heavy workloads affecting care and safety, with 51 per cent of workers saying older Australians faced an unfilled shift every day.*
  • Insecure working conditions affecting care and safety, with 61 per cent of aged care workers saying they want more hours, and 20 per cent saying they need to work two jobs to make ends meet.

 

The results from the United Workers Union survey conducted in late 2020 show a high level of support from aged care workers for sweeping recommendations made to the Aged Care Royal Commission in October by the Royal Commission’s counsel assisting.

 

Recommendations to the Royal Commission included a set time to care for each resident and more time for residents with above-average needs.

 

In the survey, aged care workers showed strong support for the positions of the counsel assisting:

  • 95 per cent said each older Australian should be guaranteed a certain amount of care time.
  • 98 per cent said there should be more time to care for older Australians with higher needs.
  • 90 per cent said there should be minimum staffing levels in aged care facilities.

 

The Aged Care Royal Commission is due to hand its report to the Federal Government on Friday 26 February 2021, after launching two years and four months ago.

 

It has received 10,000 submissions and lists staffing issues as one of the most common concerns raised.

 

United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith said, “This survey shows older Australians are not being kept safe in aged care.

 

“Under-staffing, heavy workloads and insecure jobs mean older Australians are not getting the care they need and deserve.

 

“The survey also shows workers want aged care residents to be guaranteed a certain amount of care time so workers can meet the quality care needs of older Australians.

 

“Aged care workers know it’s time to change aged care, because older Australians, their families and aged care workers deserve dignity and respect.”

 

Aged care worker Donna from South Australia said, “We are supposed to be empathetic to residents, and try and interact with them when we do our morning and afternoon tea, but we just don’t have the time.

 

“If we do get caught chatting or just being there for them our workload is unattainable.”

 

Aged care worker Jen from Queensland said, “I struggle not having the time to sit and have the time with them.

“They’re getting us to do more and more tasks and by doing that we don’t have the time to even chat with them as we shower them.”

 

Aged care worker Janine** from Western Australia said, “If we can’t fill the shift we get agency and sometimes they can’t fill the shifts either. If that happens we run down staff.

 

“When we run down it’s really hard – we get even less time and the care isn’t up to standard because they are so rushed to get things done.”

 

About the survey

The survey was designed to gain the views of aged care workers about reforms necessary in aged care. The 2900 respondents come principally from Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

 

* This question had a smaller sample of 966 workers within the 2900 respondents.

** Name has been changed.

 

25 February 2021.