Nov 22, 2022

Mass exodus: Carers still threatening to leave sector as 15% pay rise isn’t enough

22_11_22 survey & case

A new survey has revealed the aged care sector is “on the brink of collapse”, with three-quarters of the workforce warning they still intend to leave within six months if they do not receive a more significant pay increase.

While the Fair Work Commission awarded an interim 15% pay rise to direct care employees earlier this month, the Health Services Union (HSU) is continuing its campaign for a full 25% increase across the whole workforce.

In the HSU survey, aged care workers detailed how undervalued they feel and how close they are to giving up on the sector altogether.

The survey of almost 2000 aged care workers uncovered that working conditions remain unbearable and saw 75% of participants say they planned to leave the sector “soon” or “in the next six months” if they don’t receive more money. 

Aged care workers can be paid as little as $22 per hour to care for patients with complex physical, emotional and cognitive conditions such as dementia. 

The survey asked aged care workers to share the details of a challenging day at work in the last 12 months, and many articulated their exhaustion and frustration at the state of the sector. 

An aged care worker called Wendy said, “I go home aching every day and in tears,” a sentiment shared by a fellow worker, Jade, who said, “I feel like we are understaffed and undervalued.” 

“I guess every day is the biggest challenge solely because I feel like [residents] deserve more, and I can’t give that to them because of the aged care system and the lack of staffing and wages,” Jade added.

“These times have been difficult but not nearly as difficult as working extremely short staffed constantly, as no new workers want to join the industry because of the pay rate and conditions we have to work in,” she said.

About 91% of participants also said securing the 25% pay increase proposed by HSU was “extremely important”.

HSU National President, Gerard Hayes, pressed that the increase was “beyond urgent” to save the sector.

“Aged care workers cop abuse, pain and back-breaking strain… They do some of society’s most unpleasant and demanding work and until now they have been paid three-fifths of bugger all with pathetic job security,” he said.

“Unless we want our elderly cared for by robots and fed frankfurts and jelly, we need to commit to funding a full pay rise for all sections of the aged care workforce.”

The next stage of the HSU aged care work value campaign kicked off today as Mr Hayes and aged care workers gathered on the steps of the Fair Work Commission building in Sydney.

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  1. I can’t see that this pay award will dramatically change the situation aged care finds itself in. The demands on the workforce at multiple levels are continually growing especially with the pending government reforms many are suffering stress , ill health and burn out. Many are not entering into aged care as a career at all and others are retiring , the challenge is real now and may only get worse.

  2. Exactly what is written and outlined above is true.
    In addition to the understaffing, one important aspect is in Aged Care Facilities you cannot give Quality Care, if a Facility advertises, Earn $ while you learn, no experience necessary we will train you, while you work. ! I would not a relative or family member in such a Facility, there are just so many issues, concerns and problems, as this type of employment attracts much younger people. No offence, but would you really want a Personal Care Assistant, Personal Services Assistant with no experience, delivering Care to the elderly or a Resident with multiple or complex health Issues.
    I have also worked in brand new Facilities some time ago now, at the time there was 54 Residents transferred there and growing. Next there was 72 Residents.
    But there was only Two Hoists. One was Upstairs, one was Downstairs.
    There were many, and I mean many Residents that required a Hoist.
    No wonder we are suffering from Chronic Fatigue, just pushing ourselves, numerous, back and skeletal injury’s because would be wealthy owners will not provide more Equipment or hire extra and necessary staff.

  3. There needs to be pay rise for all workers in aged not just direct care workers.

    No catering, laundry, cleaning or Admin then the facility doesn’t function.

    Giving a pay rise to some in the industry just divides the workers in the facility.

  4. I come from the RTO VET sector. The future workforce is also in crisis.
    At a recent networking event, most training providers have indicated a drop in enrolments of up to 90% for the Certificate III in Individual Support.

    Where are we getting the workers from to cover those that are leaving?

    It may very well collapse and definitely within the next 6-12 months.

  5. Aged Care Providers are solely responsible for chronic understaffing of their facilities.
    Just how do they justify the number of staff attempting to deliver care to their residents.
    it is an unrealistic expectation to assume adequate care can or is being delivered .
    it is shameful !!! Time for their business model to be reviewed.

  6. Everyone is just going through the motions. So many staff leaving and always short. Place seems to be falling apart with only one Maintenence person doing 2 facilities! So many things need fixing. So used to it now. Unless staff are truly valued and looked after like in any profession the turnover of staff will keep happening.And who will it effect the most? The elderly and the mentally disadvantaged! It is a job that is looked down upon by most and I believe it is because of the low wages and negative media reporting. A job alot of people don’t believe could be hard or who don’t want to admit it can be confronting and turn a blind eye.

  7. After over 35yrs in aged care community services and 13yrs still left of me in working, I am certainly considering leaving the industry.
    I am working over 60-70,hrs week and only paid for 38hrs as a home care package coordinator. I am tired of being verbally abused from self entitled people, clients or their family. I am tired of working in a broken system.
    It’s a total mess.

  8. Most just want enough time to do their jobs well which is to improve the lives of their elderly clients.
    They are not asking for a lot.
    They are generally motivated, hard working, decent people who could work anywhere else so we as a nation should be very, very concerned
    We are getting off lightly with Request for a 25% pay rise
    I am fearful that I may need to be aged care recipient at some time in the future

    1. Hi Anne..you have really raised a very important point here (among many). We may all be aged care recipients in the future. We must all be concerned about losing our valuable frontliners. 25% is not enough for the work they do. The care industry has long been undervalued and this needs to change

  9. Any negotiations need to address the disparity between the Aged care Sector and disabilitites. Regardless of the percentage of the increase, if Aged Care workers don’t eventually earn as much as disability services we will not retain staff.

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