Apr 08, 2020

Why should some aged care staff receive retention bonus but not others?


Laundry staff, cleaners and kitchen staff working in residential aged care will not receive the government’s retention bonus, even though home care workers performing similar duties are entitled to the payment.

On 20 March, the government announced it will pay a ‘retention bonus’ to aged care workers to help providers keep staff employed through the COVID-19 crisis.

Aged care minister, Richard Colbeck, told HelloCare that full-time “direct care workers in residential care facilities”, including personal care workers, registered nurses, enrolled nurses and allied health, will receive a ‘retention bonus’ of up to $800 per quarter.

A broader scope of home care workers will also receive a payment.

“Full-time home care workers will receive payments of up to $600 per quarter,” Mr Colbeck said.

“This includes workers providing clinical care, personal care, cleaning, home support activities and meal preparation, social support, shopping, community access and transport, allied health and respite.”

Payments are “inequitable”

Aged and Community Services Australia CEO, Pat Sparrow, told HelloCare the government payments are well intentioned, but “inequitable” and need to be reviewed.

“We think the government’s tried to do the right thing here. It’s welcome, and it’s got a good intention,” Ms Sparrow said. 

“But the things that we’re concerned about, that we think it needs to address, is that there’s an inequity in what a home care worker will receive and what a residential worker will receive.”

It seems “inequitable” that aged care workers receive $800 while home care workers only receive $600, she said.

Meals, laundry, cleaning essential in residential aged care

She also said the way the government has defined those who deliver “direct care” in residential aged care is too narrow. 

Those in residential aged care preparing meals, doing the laundry, and cleaning, for example, are not included in the payment while nurses and care workers are. 

“We think that they are facing the same level of contact with residents,” said Ms Sparrow. 

“They’re carrying the same level of risk and doing it because they think it’s important work to do. We think they should be getting the recognition and retention payment as the other staff.”

She said the work of ensuring residents have clean rooms, food to eat and clean bedding is as important as the work the nurses and the care workers are doing.

Payment a “significant source of anger and distress”

Leading Age Services Australia CEO, Sean Rooney, said the government should reconsider its decision to exclude some aged care staff from the retention bonus. 

“All staff are essential to the delivery of safe and effective aged care in the context of COVID-19,” he said.

“Providing the retention bonus to some staff and not to others has been a source of significant anger and distress among employees. 

“Services overseas have reported that retention can be more of a problem for cleaners and food services staff than it is for direct care staff, who are generally better able to understand and manage the risks,” Ms Rooney said.

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  1. Food service staff at my facility don’t actually go onto the wards. Dementia wards are off limits at the moment. They leave the trolleys near lifts and the AINs are the ones to take the food trolleys onto the wards. As are the linen trolleys. So I do believe AINs deserve a bonus as they are working twice as hard. Laundry on the other hand should get this money as they are in close contact with soiled linen. You don’t have to have an IQ of 150 to see they are just as close to infecious material as AINs that have to do personal care for so many individuals. We are all lacking in staff no’s as we have always been, so nothing has really changed except more work for AINs!! Cleaners may be vulnerable but they don’t touch bodily fluids left on floors as the AINs are the only ones that are allowed to clean in these situations. The cleaners have a pretty clean job at my place! But they are going from room to room wiping benches and table tops and dusting once a week per resident! So yes they should be paid as well. We don’t want people leaving in the droves for fear of getting infectious diseases of any kind! The laundry staff leave the linen outside the lifts for AINs to stack towels and give out individual clothes washing for the residents as well. So AINs are truly deserving of this money. Laundry staff should definately be getting this government money. It’s a no brainer! Cms on the other hand should not be getting it I aged care as they really have hardly any contact with residents! If at all any!!

    1. It might be different at your facility, but I myself as a food service assistant still continue to do our normal duties, We go in houses and serve food, Apart from that we clean up dirty dishes such as cups, sipper cups, plates and cutlery which means that we definitely are in close contact with infectious materials of residents, we have to go in to residents room for serving morning and afternoon tea, I agree that care workers have the contact with the residents the most but it’s so unfair to say that food serve staff don’t deserve it as we too work hard by putting ourselves at high risk in dealing with highly infectious goods of residents in fulfilling their needs in a situation like this.

    2. At the aged care facility I work at we have just as much close contact as ain’s We still go into every room in the facility to clean and deliver clothing so we are just as deserving for a bonus

    3. We all work together at my aged care home which belongs to a big company
      Hospitality workers especially have very close relationships with our residents in every aspect

    4. forgive me but as a cook and laundry assistant in an aged care home, I go to all houses and have a great deal of contact with our residents. we are the eyes of a lot of carers who are not available and have to help residents with blankets and turning off and on tv’s and airconditioners. we are entitled to this bonus we have just as much contact and are a very important part of the facility.

      1. Thats right, i work as a cook in aged care and kitchen staff have direct contact with all residents

  2. Lifestyle and activity staff should also be included. ABSOLUTELY, It takes a multidisciplinary team to support and care for our Residents, each and everyone as valuable and important as the other. Please help to share this message !

  3. Equally frustrating for home care workers is that CHSP home care workers will not be receiving the bonus – only care workers for home care package clients will receive the bonus. And the difference is?

  4. Kitchen staffs are considerably vulnerable to getting viruses in the aged care facility. As one of them, we are dealing into a routine work of collecting dirty dishes and wash them that the residents have used even those who are infected by virus. We are most probably entitled for a retention bonus.

  5. I am a kitchen staff in aged care facility. Kitchen staff help with serving meals and go in residents’ rooms to serve morning tea, afternoon tea and supper. We clean the dirty dishes as well. I think kitchen staff should be included.

  6. I have worked hard in aged care for 13 years some cleaning mostly servery..
    I feel that the Government dosnt see us domestics as being worth anything..
    I would like to see a nursing home run without cleaners, laundry staff, kitchen etc..!! We are a team and it’s very very disheartening for the Government to dismiss how hard we work and the risk we ALL face at this time..
    Can’t put into words really how low this makes me feel about my job ..and I’m sure I’m not the only one..

    1. Cleaners do a lot for the residents,most times dirty linen and clothing is left in the bathroom floor.in an ideal world that wouldn’t happen but it does,we are left to pick things up so I think we should be getting a bonus too

    2. Well said! People don’t realise just how hard the domestic staff work..and provide a very important service to the residents..

    3. As a housekeeper in an aged care facility I have more contact than the carers most day We are already seen as the bottom of the ladder and not being given this payment is another flap in the face

  7. What about lifestyle staff? According to me all staff working in aged care are equally participating in care of resident’s . They all are doing remarkable work at this stage . All should be kept same.

    1. Absolutely I agree. Where I work we have just as much or even more time looking after residents.

    2. Lifestyle workers will always be recognised last. That’s because there are so few in each facility. The way I see it, everyone faces the same risk of catching the virus as we all work cohesively as a unit. Lifestyle workers physically assist residents sit, stand, eat, dress etc when the need arises. There is no chance of social distancing when someone requires help.I would say at my workplace RN’s are mainly on the computer, phone & drug trolley-very little physical contact. Personal carers have the hardest task. Anyway, it’s not really a competition – we are a network & the Aged Care Minister has shown he knows nothing about the way things work in residential aged care! He has rewarded some & discounted the contribution of others.

  8. DISCRIMINATION!! I will quit work and apply for Centrelink if not included. I haven’t given over 18 years service to be treated without respect. I would rather be at home right now but I risk it everyday to go to work. Absolutely disgusted with the Government Minister!

  9. So government doesn’t value other aged care workers as much as it does RNs, ENs, AINs?
    Mr PM just visit an aged care one day and then only you will have a deep understanding of how professionally other workers like catering staff, cleaners, DTs, to name a few work in an interdisciplinary team to achieve the aged care goals. Every other workers apart from nurses equally take the risk during these perilous times to deliver their responsibilities at work. Catering and cleaning staff deal with clients face to face everyday just as much as nurses. Each and every aged care worker has put themselves at risk during the covid 19.

  10. I don’t know why any of the staff in aged care should get these payments when the nursing staff in hospitals aren’t. The gov.wouldn’t even pay there registration ????

  11. Why cleaner,laudry,kitchen staff not a essential worker all of sudden.when these sort of annoucment comes,why thy don’t think once.Any idea how much work does cleaner and laudry people put.Dealing with soiled clothes ,smell , hot machine rooms,and than cleaners some time residents pee, poop in middle of dinning areas,in rooms.They are the one who deals with it every single day.
    Kitchen staff daily come in contact with residents and their families for coffee,tea,water lunch,
    Cleaning dishes, feeding them,helping them.
    For change either aged care or hospital staff all of get it or no one.why discrimination….

  12. Let me say that our nurses have not done anything extra other than occasional temperature testing of residents and maintaining good care. in fact we have been given more nursing hours to cope with the pandemic! On the other hand our kitchen staff have had to cook all the extra food as requested by our managers as requested by families of the residents we care for, as they couldn’t visit with their home baked goodies or usual treats and other purchasers. They have had to get recipes from families and make their “family egg custard” or buy their personal shopping like brandy and ginger beer or Baileys because Coles Online stopped delivering goods to our aged care! So much more work! Cleaners have had to clean every area every day multiple times not just their normal routine cleans! But no more staff, And no more thanks from families! And then there’s lifestyle with reading, sourcing books and doing extra activities while social distancing with all residents in all areas but again no more staff! No leaving the building for bus excursions or visits with families To shops or cafes so our lifestyle have had to create extra indoor activities with birds fish books games and jigsaws! Not to mention video calls or phone conferences or pictures of residents emailed to families on the outside!
    Then there’s maintenance person moving residents in and out of facility and within the facility as families couldn’t enter the building to assist, same with death, moving out a residents belongings if 10 years residency!
    And lastly reception/admin organising weekly Covid email
    Updates to families and letters posted weekly or more often! Facilitating window visits then face to face visits! Quarantining all gifts inwards before delivery To residents from family. Temperature testing every single staff member, family and contractors! Then being abused by family who refuse to be respectful and understanding of Govt law for visiting in aged care! Answering 20-30% more phone calls from family frustrating by not being able to visit. Arranging flowers and birthday celebrations for residents as family couldn’t visit!
    ALL workers must get the bonus!
    Some nurses are managers on bigger salary so they shouldn’t get it either!
    Please give it to all workers in Aged Care

    1. Well said Judy,
      Of all the comments on this web page, you are the only one that has mentioned administration staff. At our facility all our workers have contact with all residents.
      Our admin is the hub of our facility and is the front line of our defence against this highly contagious disease.
      Residents, staff, relatives, contractors, allied health, ambos and doctors all are greeted by the admin, taking temperatures and ensuring all appropriate documentation is signed (so we can easily trace if necessary, and at times three different documents require signing). Paperwork, the constant interruptions by the residents for the need of additional attention and phone enquires have increased 10 fold, ever week there are new documents to keep up with new symptoms and regulation requirements.
      During the peak of the pandemic documents changed daily. Whilst cleaners got paid to stay an extra hour to complete additional cleaning, all careers and nurses would finish their shifts and go home.
      However our admin officer was still working hours after their shift ended due to the need to keep relatives, residents and staff informed as information would come through from head office late in the day often when admin should have been signing off..
      I would also like to mention the rosters. Whilst staff would ring in sick due to runny noses or headaches, we would have to insist on Covid testing, instead of one or two days off for staff it would be four or five whilst waiting for a negative result to come back, thankfully all were.
      Administrations are the ones that would have the added stress of managing staff and shuffling shifts to ensure we maintained staffing levels and not compromised care.
      The Admin has never been paid overtime nor been given additional hours to cope with the additional demands Covid-19 has brought to them.
      If care staff and nurses deserve a bonus then all aged care workers should get the payment.

  13. Well said Judy. I believe all aged care workers should receive the retention bonus.

  14. I am a R N working full time with agency. Am I entitled for the retention bonus and if so who is responsible to pay for it.

  15. All aged care facilities are run differently, and in saying so I believe all facilities should be given a check list on whether certain departments have met specific requirements which can result in being given a rebate. As a member of the kitchen/catering staff in my aged care facility I can say that I have my fair share of close encounters with all my residents in my area every shift.

  16. Hi I’m just wondering I work in both aged care and acute Mostly in acute am I eliable for the payment.

  17. Domestic staff should all go on Strike! Let the PCA’s And Nurses do everything cleaning, cooking and laundry.

  18. I feel so sad I have work right through the covid 19 at my work.I am a cleaner and with out us cleaners there making sure everything disinfected 2 3 times a day smelling all those chemicals everyday some day feeling sick of the smell.
    Yet the Government thinks we are nobody.
    I had to go to work put myself out there in danger while others were safe at home.
    I just want to say shame on you who decided were arnt worth the payment.

    1. I understand that some facilities are fairer towards their staff and don’t use the AINs to do cleaning, dishing out meals, Diversional Therapy when short of DTs like my place does. The AINs at my place of employment have been treated so badly over the years and used to fill in the gaps when cleaners , laundry, catering are sick or on holidays! It has been going on for years. Loads of staff have left this huge Australian Wide Conglomerate. You may be surprised who I am talking about but from experience most people who have worked for this company don’t ever look back! We have a huge responsibility of caring for so many residents with so little staff. Nobody else in aged care spends as much time with residents as the AINs. We suffer the good, the bad and the ugly on a daily basis from staff, management, CMs, RNs, family,doctors allied health staff and then need to be phsycologist, wardsmen, security, Medication Competent, laundry staff as we the AINs place all the individual clothing into the resident’s rooms! Any vomit or faeces on the floor anywhere in the building is only ever cleaned by AINs. They even make the AINs clean unisex toilets used by staff if there is a mess caused by visitors or residents! So you know what? Please don’t compare what some of you do compared to what the AINs are expected to do. We are the ones that are so close to the residents 24/7. We clean them up after they have had a hemorrhage, then hold their hands to reassure them, we clean the blood, the faeces the urine, the vomit from their clothes. We make their beds we get hit, spat, punched, verbally abused and yet we can still hug, love and come into to do it all over again the next day! Yep the life of an AIN is undervalued, underpaid and please don’t compare yourselves with us. Especially if you work for the same company.

  19. It is not really fair for hospitality staff that don’t get a retention bunks, we come to work everyday risking our life, but they won’t recognise our effort feeding and cleaning the mess. It is neglecting for us. Ya, boss don’t really appreciate our effort. Some nurses in our nursing home chatting and laughing,,ya they are lucky cos they have a nursing degree just to give a medicine. And carers do most of the hard work and get paid very low. And the boss give only 5pairs of gloves for 6hrs shift or afternoon shift.

  20. I work in the servery im sorry but how dont we deserve the bonus as well we go to rooms we are washing there dishes we are serving their meals we interact with every resident there…We have to make sure they are eating and look after their diets…They get sick we get sick…this is utter bull crap the government has just divided the aged care sector nurses against us its unfair we do just as much work as they do probably even more the servery and the kitchen is the heart of a nursing home if you didnt have us or the cleaners or administration there is no nursing home so thanks for letting us know we are appreciated…..we all should just walk out because we have just been proven that we are just the crud on the bottom of your shoe thanks for that

  21. It is totally unfair for the service staff to be left out of this retention bonus, just another example that food in aged care and most of the essential services provided for residents outside of nursing is not respected , wasn’t the phase we are all in it together? Very discouraging and our government is sending a poor message, not valuing all aged care workers, appalling .

  22. I am a clinical manager/registered nurse who has been required to work as a registered nurse on the floor over various shifts to fill in due to staff shortages. My role is all encompassing often including direct care, but as I am ‘management’ I do not meet bonus payment requirements and have not gotten a payment. I know there is only so much money to give and a line needs to be drawn somewhere, but perhaps funding could have been distributed in a better way and more evenly through all departments within aged care.

  23. I am a Registered Nurse working in community and it was announced that R.N’s, will not be receiving the retention bonus at all.Criteria apparently strict. Many of our clients are travelling to hot spots to see family as well as for appointments, putting us at risk. We have been flat out since April, as obviously, you need to stay home with mild illness etc, putting excessive pressure on those of us still in field…
    I feel it’s very unfair we should be excluded from bonuses. I thought it would be nice for our registration to be paid for us this year, but no. And no full pay rise…

  24. Only found out about this payment today!! To say I’m annoyed is understatement. The facility I work in kitchen staff have direct contact with all residents daily, and the cleaners as well! None of us stopped work over COVID we all still went doesn’t that only make it fair we should all get it?? I worked more hours than some of the care staff and what thanks do we get! After all can’t live without food can they! What a joke our government is..

  25. I work odd hours and gaps between my job in a day. I do home care but am a contractor for barossa village will i be eligable for the payment thanks kind regards Susan Walton

  26. Pretty disappointed that general cleaners in aged care have been excluded the amount of work that got done during this period of the outbreak to make sure that all touch points and certain surface’s and furniture were disinfected 3 times daily was hard work but us cleaners did it for the safety of the residents to make sure we sanitised literally everything they could touch to keep them safe from cross contamination this government neck time there’s an outbreak should come and do the work just to see how important is to sanitize to keep the elderly safe

  27. Hi,
    I have been working in aged care since 2019, I’m on maternity leave since January 21, 2022.
    When I asked my employer about covid bonus , they said they are not sure whether I will get it or not. Till the date 26/4/22 I haven’t got it. I think they are not giving it but I think I suppose to get it so just wondering to know about it
    Am I eligible for covid bonus or not?

  28. Hi just a question about the Nurses Bonus .I Fractured my leg at work on January 1st.I work at a aged care Facilitie as I’m on Compansation doing light duties at work I didn’t get the nurses bonus am I entitled to it.

  29. I work for Ava Maria in SHEPPARTON from November 2019 to March 2022 during Covid , I was told we would receive the $600 bonus for working with aged care during this time , I’m I right with this as Ava Maria now decided I don’t get it as I left the company , are they right ???

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