Jan 21, 2019

Are Some Aged Care Workers Too Scared To Speak To The Royal Commission?

When the Aged Care Royal Commission was announced in September by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the overwhelming reaction by our audience was that it was about time.

Judging by the amount of correspondence that we receive on these issues, it was expected that when The Royal Commission into Aged Care asked the public to share their stories, that they would struggle to deal with the number of submissions that they would receive.

Strangely though, this was far from the case.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety kicked off at 10.00am last Friday morning, and one of the most shocking things to come out of the fairly underwhelming proceedings was the fact that only 300 members of the public had made a submission.

Yes, you heard that correctly. Only 300 people.

While the public has only had the ability to make submissions since Christmas Eve, and even though they still have until at least to June to do so, that doesn’t change the fact that 300 submissions in close to a month, for a subject that people are so passionate about, definitely seems low.

And judging by the comments on a number of our previous Royal Commission themed articles, one reason for this low number may simply be fear.

 

Why The Silence?

The aged care sector is in desperate need of qualified staff who have an eye for detail and the type of character qualities that see them put their residents/clients welfare before anything else.

But sadly, for some aged care workers they feel that they can’t speak up. By speaking up about malpractice within aged care may mean they lose their jobs or potentially their colleagues if they say something.

Take Your Opportunity

The Aged Care Royal Commission gives members of the public who wish to make a submission, the opportunity to do so anonymously, without the need for any personal details.

Commissioner Mr. Richard Tracey AM RFD QC, also addressed the issue of facilities/services punishing staff by sending a clear warning.

“It would be unlawful for an employer to take punitive action against an employee or former employee who has assisted us,” he said.

While Commissioner Ms. Lynelle Briggs AO, claimed that aged care providers who failed to engage with the commission’s process would “draw attention to themselves and their practices.”

The general public has been given their chance to speak, and the powers-that-be are giving you every opportunity to be able to tell your story.

Working with the elderly is a privilege, but this privilege comes with great responsibility.

Take your chance and stand up, for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

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  1. Many residents living in aged care and their families are to scared to speak out because they fear there may be repercussions. my mother is in care and I am quite aware of what happens as I worked in the aged care sector for many years as administration assistant) and saw some things that occured from managers to pca. Unfortunately residents will not say anything to managers as they fear that they will be reprimanded or their care deteriorate. I have had residents say things to me as a daughter of one of their friends and I have been gobbed smacked that they do not feel safe enough to complain or even mention issues to managers. This also applies to many family members who fear that should they complain about the care a family member is getting , that their family member will suffer because of the complaint. There appears to be no anonymous neutral one on one with residents and families to allow them to voice issues or problems.
    I will say though that on most occasions when I have put forward a written complaint it has been dealt with swiftly and to my satisfaction. I guess my mum is one of the lucky ones where her voice is heard even though it is through me.

  2. I have worked in Aged care for 26 years, the last place I worked was 11 years at Blue Cross as a Supervisor, ACFI, Care Plans and an Interim Manager. I would say that of all the places I worked Blue Cross has the best Policies and Procedures which they carry out precisely. My problem was when we advertised for a PCA I would get approx. 40 application from Indian students who I feel are not properly trained and are not fluent enough in English to be able to interact with Residents. My complaint is where my Mother was, she passed away 24.01.18 and was a Resident at Mercy Care in Montrose, I was not at all happy with the care she received. My father was with her every day, the things we noted were lifting machines, wheel chairs in the passageway (my mother had lost her sight and had Dementia). The RN dispensed the medication, they never took the trolley with them, just ran from the office with a cup and her medication, with his finger inside the cup. He is supposed to mark off each medication when given. There was a patient in the room opposite who wandered, stripped his clothing off constantly yelling, he came into my mothers room often and the lady next door. One day my father head the lady yell and went in and he had her against the wardrobe. There are no staff on the floor during handover so it was always a matter of handling any issue yourself, my mother was faecally incontinent, we buzzed and waited 15 mins. I then took my mother to the bathroom and attended to her p. hygiene. On two occasions my father noted they were about to administer medication at lunch time to my mother when she never had any at that time. The man in the room opposite came up behind my father in the passage and punched him to the ground. I spoke to the Manager and said I wanted him away from my mother and that he should be in a more secure facility. She promised he would b4e, it was approx. 3 weeks before he was moved and only after I said I had been to the police station and given a statement. There were many minor issues, yes they could have had 1 more staff on but I believe their training and ongoing training was lacking.

    1. Susan if you have submitted your story to the Aged Care Royal Commission please do so-as an experienced person in the aged care workforce as well as having family in care it is very powerful. Thank you for sharing it, Wendy

  3. Susan I also encourage you to share your story ….it is very powerful . I was a nurse working with older people for over 25 yrs. My chosen career path which I just loved! No matter what further education I did I recall one comment “ You will never be a real Nurse as you just work with old people”. I worked with some amazing people and organisations but I can honestly say that no Aged Care Nurse who has been in the industry of caring for older people has not seen or been touched by something. Having a nursing background and experience did not equip me with extra tools that could be advantageous or give me the upper hand to navigate or advocate or protect my ageing parents . Living in a rural area the fear is everyone knows everyone. Nurses working with older people are an ageing workforce and are at a greater risk of serious injury due to repitiveness andthe heavy “unpredictable” nature of the job. This is despite all the no lift and manual handling policies . There is also a fear of repercussions to themselves within the work environment and loved ones to with big issues around bullying. . Another issue can be that staff report issues but it is goes to a level and stops with no where else to go. As older people enter residential care facilities a lot older and with more complex and chronic conditions we are not equipping or supporting staff with the tool box to enable quality care . The changes in care needs of older people is not reflected in the training we provide. Aged care is also not recognised as the specialty health field it is like other health care. We are not attracting more people to this industry as it is lower paid, not respected and very hard work with our current system. . The picture is bigger in that we all need to work together to come up wit the solutions. These solutions need to come from the grassroots levels up to the top. Please take the opportunity to put in a submission everyone ….also bring in the suggested positive solutions . We are all responsible and have a role with respecting , including and safeguarding our ageing population.

  4. Interesting I had a call about this asking if I was interested in being involved, can’t remember who now, told they would contact me however and of course no one did. I’m definitely interested so please be aware there are a lot of us prepared to advocate, speak up and out about pos and neg

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