Oct 16, 2020

Aged Care Workers Spend Average of 6 Minutes Getting Residents Ready in the Morning

Could you get ready in the morning in six minutes? Most people wouldn’t be able to. But in aged care, it’s expected that staff get the residents ready in the morning in a mere six minutes.

That includes waking the elderly residents from bed, helping them to the toilet or changing their incontinence protection, getting them dressed and giving them any medications they take in the morning.

Canada’s largest private sector union, Unifor, has set the 6 minute challenge to bring attention to the challenges aged care workers face where they are required to get a large group of residents ready in the morning.

Last December, the union asked the public to document their attempt to get ready in six minutes on social media with the hashtag #6minchallenge.

And what was posted, were people’s amusing predicaments at six minutes.

“I woke up with my alarm got oriented brought my clothes to the bathroom took a pee put on deodorant brushed my teeth put on a bra and a shirt and 6 mins was up,” said Erinn Champigny, “[but] I don’t have on pants or underwear I haven’t brushed my hair or put on any make up.”

“No makeup, no coffee, no teeth brushing, no breakfast. I’m still in my onesie. I can’t imagine how seniors in care homes are supposed to do this in six minutes,” said Jennifer Moreau.

Hassan Yussuff attempted the challenge with his family – and when they got clocked off, they were all still brushing their teeth.

“This morning – total failure,” said Naureen Rizvi, “wasted one minute getting up, went to the washroom, then decided to put on coffee, came back to wash my face and brush my teeth and the timer went off. Impossible.”

Though it’s easy to see the humour in the situations people found themselves it – it’s not a laughing matter for aged care workers and the residents who have to go through this speedy process every day.

The campaign highlights the issues of understaffing in aged come homes around Canada – an issue that is similar to Australia.

The Reality of Being an Aged Care Worker

An anonymous aged care worker told CTV News that she was responsible for nine to ten resident and was expected to have them in the dining hall by 8am when she worked morning shifts.

“I was never in that dining room on time. If I was lucky, I’d be pushing it to be down there for 9am or 9:30am., I always felt rushed and I’m pretty sure the other girls do too.”

“When you have six minutes to get a single person ready, there’s no way you can get that person ready in a dignified way. There’s no way that person is feeling like themselves, feeling good about themselves,” said Morgan Kevill, who works in a hospital but spent part of her training in aged care, “it just feels so wrong.”

“If you’re 93 years old and you have dentures and you have a hearing aid and you need incontinence products and you don’t like to be rushed in the morning, it makes it really tough,” Ontario NDP Health Critic France Gelinas told CTV News.

Gelinas admits that she did try the 6 minute challenge – but wasn’t brave enough to post the results on social media.

“You need more courage than I have to post yourself brushing your teeth and brushing your hair in the morning. I may work up the courage but there’s no way I’m ready in six minutes,” she said.

“Let’s not kid ourselves. [Aged Care] is not sexy. It doesn’t grab people’s attention,” she said. “The Six Minute Challenge is really to bring it to the forefront.”

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  1. I am a care service employee and there is no way care staff spend only 6 minutes with a resident in the morning at my workplace or any work place I have been in. Any care worker that’s says it takes 6 minutes to get someone ready is lying. Aged care in Australia is moving in a new direction of person centred care where care staff do not wake anyone up and serves them when they are ready not when the care worker is ready. I’m sorry but 6 minutes is BS.

    1. I thought that was the point of the article, it is NOT possible to get someone ready in 6 minutes but many facilities are staffed on that assumption. Very few aged care facilities serve hot meals at all hours, if you want fresh food you have to be in the dining room or at least awake at meal times. Most seem to have a light evening meal around 5pm and if you don’t have breakfast around 8am it can be problematic to get all the nutrition of a main meal at lunchtime. Person centred care may be spoken about but it seems to require far more trained and consistent care workers than I’ve seen. Medication also has to be administered at required intervals and sometimes with or before food.

    2. I have to agree with janelle, i am a care worker i dont spend six minutes with a rssident i spend more, but janelle is right the management expect can be up to 12 residents with two carers going flat out to get them ready for the day, staff te resident ratio needs to be addressed by the government, its not just care needs that are time consuming its other duties, bed making, call bells ringing other resident needing the toilet, clearing breakfast dishes, cleaning and replenshing jugs, bed making and changing, laundry, the list goes on

  2. Many Australian facilities have set meal times for residents and require care staff in the dining room before the meal is served. There is also an increasing number who choose to eat in their room, requiring care staff to deliver the meal and provide assistance.

    While care staff do all they can to work to the resident’s time frame, this also presents challenges. With large rooms and geographically spread out wings and floors, much time can be spent moving between the rooms, supporting a number of residents at the same time.

    I recently timed how long it takes to deliver a tray to the room – often 2-3 minutes per room, when the trolley is right at the door. This includes raising the head of the bed, propping up the resident, supporting them with pillows, moving the tray table over the bed, undoing the lids of the meal items, peeling the tops off condiments, rearranging the items on the tray to be in reach, cutting toast, going back to the dining room for forgotten items, etc.

    This does not include assisting residents with their meal, which can take 30 minutes or more – a rare luxury of time. In between, there may be interruptions of urgent requests, other residents falling, support to another carer/nurse.

    No wonder why the dining experience rarely exists for residents eating outside the dining room.

  3. The day i find any of my staff only spending 6 minutes with a resident they will be unemployed.
    The majority of providers and care staff love and care for those we look after. To float this as “the norm” is very unfair and biased, and fear mongering.
    As consumer directed care plays a greater role maybe these fairy tails will change. If a resident wants to be up at 5 great if they want to be up at 11 that is there choice.
    It is hard enough for families to want to place their loved ones in aged care without false hoods and scare tactics being reported by the media and i would guess jaded staff on their soap box.

  4. fhis is…down..right .impossible cant be done my mum takes forever alone taking her incontinence pants she still has her pride then ..breaky then shower takes all morning who at .they kidding just saying


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