Feb 25, 2020

Aged care assessors’ mental health under strain


Staff who assess aged care facilities in Australia are over worked, stressed and feel unsupported at work, according to a recent survey.

Assessors from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission have reported low levels of wellbeing in a survey by The Community and Public Sector Union.

The survey’s outcomes have raised concerns that large workloads could be affecting the assessor’s ability to properly inspect aged care facilities.

Public Sector Union survey ranks Commission second lowest

The Community and Public Sector Union surveyed its members at the commission from the end of 2018 to the start of 2019. Most responses came from aged care assessors, who carry out inspections of aged care facilities all over Australia.

According to a report in The Canberra Times, a census of the public service in 2019 showed the commission returned a wellbeing index of only 55 per cent, ranking it 96 out of 97 government agencies. 

Only 28 per cent of staff said the commission promoted health and wellbeing at work.

Just less than half – 49 per cent – were happy with the way the commission supported health and wellbeing among staff. 

Around two-thirds – 64 per cent – said they were expected to do an unreasonable amount of work and that not enough time was allocated to inspect each facility and write up results.

Three-quarters of respondents said they didn’t speak up about their workload due to concerns it could raise questions about their ability to carry out their duties.

Half of respondents said they knew staff had been “mistreated” after raising similar concerns with management, according to The Canberra Times.

Yet the staff surveyed said they were committed to the agency’s goals and that they were willing to “go the extra mile”.

Changes not well implemented for staff

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission replaced the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency and the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner in 2019, on the recommendation of a regulation review of aged care.

Staff reported they didn’t feel the changes were well communicated with staff, and their input into the changes was not considered. 

The establishment of the new agency coincided with a 17 per cent increase in complaints from the last six months of 2018 (3,608 complaints) to the first six months of 2019 (4,220).

The Community and Public Sector Union’s National Vice President, Brooke Muscat-Bentley, told The Canberra Times more staff are needed. 

“Our members are dedicated but over worked, they continue to ensure safety for our older Australians across the country but are not adequately supported in their work.”

“These results are concerning at a time when major changes are occurring across this agency,” she said.

She said more changes were likely with the outcome of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.


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