A number of aged care staff told The Advertiser they are concerned about continuing to work or returning to work amid a “mass exodus” of employees who have either been suspended from work or are on stress leave.
Over the last six months, more than 35 staff have left the aged care home because they are on stress leave, or they have been suspended or resigned.
Current and former employees told The Advertiser a “toxic” work culture is to blame.
Four staff members – two carers and two registered nurses – were suspended without being given a reason, according to a former staff member. They were informed of their suspension only half an hour before they were due to start work.
“I know for a fact I did not do anything that would’ve resulted in an incident half an hour before my shift,” she told The Advertiser.
“Everyone speaks highly of me, the residents love me and I will always advocate for my residents no matter what,” she said.
One of the affected staff told The Advertiser they had “never been this anxious” and they intend to lodge a complaint with the Fair Work Commission.
Another staff member who recently resigned, said the residents are suffering.
The residents “don’t know who’s coming in next”, she said. “Ultimately, they are the ones impacted.”
They added, “We’re short-staffed all the time, they’re not replacing staff … it’s just a mess.”
One member of staff told The Advertiser that the stress of working at the home was making them physically sick.
SA United Workers Union public sector coordinator, Paul Blackmore, said, “Older Australians are not getting the safety or the care they deserve.”
A spokesperson for the local healthcare network, SA Health Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network, said recruitment and retention in regional healthcare facilities is a challenge right across Australia.
Furthermore, 10 staff at the home were suspended last week after they failed to meet South Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination deadlines for aged care workers.
The home also failed a compliance assessment in July, when failures in personal care, clinical care, services and support for daily living, and organisational governance were identified.