May 16, 2022

Calls for a mental health hotline for aged care workers who experience verbal abuse

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The CEO of a home care organisation is campaigning for the creation of mental health support services for aged care staff in the lead-up to the federal election.

My Homecare CEO, Stuart Miller, recently revealed to 9News that many of his staff are being abused by family members of care recipients due to frustrations over delays to in-home care services as a result of COVID-19-related staff shortages.

“The situation with staff turnover with COVID-19 isolation means we have to triage who gets the services,” Miller said.

After working in aged care for eight years, My Homecare case manager Megan Mainwaring said that the pressures facing herself and other staff members are becoming unbearable.

“You have to deal with clients yelling at you because you were supposed to be there two hours ago, but you can’t be there on time because you have so many clients and not enough staff to cover it,” Mainwaring explained.

“The clients are frustrated because they don’t get to go out and their families aren’t coming around, they can get quite verbally aggressive.”

In addition to a mental health hotline, Miller believes that aged care staff should receive resilience training to better understand how they can deal with confrontation.

“So the government needs to reach into providers and say we’ll offer these free services to build into your team meetings, care manager meetings, field meetings, so we can give you some of the tips and tools for your staff to get through these issues,” he shared.

Miller has also called on the government to increase the pay of aged care workers, citing increased living costs and higher-paying care roles as factors exacerbating worker shortages across the aged care sector.

He also revealed that My Homecare has been trying to relieve the financial pressures of rising fuel costs by supplying home care staff with fuel cards.

“People doing very similar work in the disability sector are getting paid 15% more so it’s not surprising when people go to disability,” Miller added.

Calls for increases in pay and working conditions in the aged care sector have reached a fever pitch in recent weeks, highlighted by staff strikes across the country last Tuesday.

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  1. Yes, totally agree with Stuart regarding care staff and office staff being verbally abused by family members of care recipients and in some cases directly by the care recipient due to frustrations over a range of issues e.g having to change out their normal care workers that provide ongoing care or change times or days due to covid or flu isolation or unavailability of care workers on a particular day. We have found that there is an increase of aggression by family members/care recipients directed at care workers and office staff. It has become so frequent recently, that rostering staff are terrified to call certain clients/families to advise that their normal care worker is not available on the day/time they have requested for fear of abuse. We have personally had a client and their representative arrive at our office and demand that we pay their council rates – when informed this was not possible under the legislation, they became verbally threatening using expletives and abuse to the point where they were asked to leave the office and not return. Our staff handled this encounter very well – given their training and skills, but it would be very helpful if the Government would recognise these situations as becoming more frequent and offer free services for tips and tools for all workers in the care industry to deal with such.

  2. My husband is working in an Aged Care 20 years and the issue is not only about the resident’s behaviors. he can cope with this. The stress time is because most of the time they have short staff and they had a busy shift as they need to deal with many duties at the same time and facilities didn’t give them any incentive to continue with this kind of shift plus low wages. I can understand that disability workers looking after only one person earn more than my husband who deal with many residents, and different duties.

  3. We should be considering understanding Mental Health and equip our staff with training in Mental Health First Aid. Just having some tools and understanding around “Conversations” can be life changing for both sides

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