Nov 02, 2018

Is the Media Having a Negative Effect on the Reputation of Aged Care Workers?

The recent 4 Corners investigation into the atrocities within the aged care sector was brutal.

Footage depicting some of the most frail and vulnerable citizens within the country being manhandled, neglected and abused, had an effect that has scarred the image of aged care in Australia.

As disturbing as the footage was, it was highly important for the Australian public to understand the depths of despair that some of our elderly go through.

Even though these types of incidents are definitely not typical, in 2018, it actually takes this level of atrocity in order to pierce the consciousness of the masses and get people to stand up and take notice.

Sadly, there are unwanted casualties with incidents of this magnitude, and the people who are bearing the brunt of the outrage are the vast majority of aged care workers who dedicate their life to the wellbeing of the elderly.

It takes a special type of person to devote their entire career to the wellbeing of others, especially when you consider the level of hardship and backlash that they must endure.

And when you combine that with the expectations of families and inappropriate levels of pay that most aged care workers are currently receiving, it’s not hard to see why the sector has issues with recruitment.

It goes without saying, those who choose to work in aged care are deservant of both our praise and respect, but unfortunately this is not what a lot of aged care workers are experiencing, and it’s beginning to take its toll.

Hellocare was contacted this week by an aged care worker who wished to remain anonymous, but also felt the need to reach out and address the negative impact that aged care horror stories are having on employees.

“Some of my colleagues say they don’t admit to being a nurse anymore as they are immediately looked down on.

I know and feel myself that I am hesitant to tell people that I’m an aged care nurse these days.

“It has gotten to the point where I don’t go shopping on the way home from work and will go and change rather than have people make comments that are often quite derogatory.

“A lot of Aged Care sites seem to pick up on the negative stories, which is soul destroying for the majority of nurses who really do the hard yards because they care so much.

“I just wish that sites like yours and others would also put out, the great things that nurses do.

“We love our elderly, and a bit of us dies each time one of them passes away. Often, we are there more than the families who complain,” this person said.

Believe it or not, the topic of balance and the need for positive news stories are things that aged care news providers like us talk about on a daily basis.

It may seem like there is nothing but horror stories and negativity coming out of aged care, but the fact of the matter is that there are numerous positive articles being published about aged care every week, but very few people read them.

Statistically we see readers engage with negative articles almost 5 times more than they do with positive articles. Which speaks to the current day climate of sensationalism, fear and outrage.

While outrage towards horrible things in aged care is needed in order to showcase problems and encourage improvement and change in the sector, it shouldn’t come at the emotional cost of those who dedicate their lives to caring for the elderly.

This backlash currently being experienced by aged care workers is a byproduct of the inadequacy of the current aged care system and a lack of knowledge from the general public regarding what is happening.

While horror stories grab headlines, they are rare occurrences that actually detract from the issues of loneliness and depression that plague the elderly people of this country.

This is something that most people remain blissfully unaware of, and are actually capable of helping to fix.

It is the responsibility of those with knowledge surrounding these issues to inform, share and spread this information as much as possible in order to give the public a realistic expectation of what aged care currently is, and the actual capabilities that employees currently have.

Our anonymous aged care worker, also echoed these sentiments.

“It’s getting worse as families want more and more. Then there is the hierarchy who just tell you to “work smarter and not harder” as they reduce staffing. Aged care needs looking into immediately,” this person said.

Here at HelloCare we do our very best to try and publish balanced and informative content, and we are well aware of the responsibility that we have in portraying the industry.

We commend and support everyone who shares in the responsibility of  caring for the elderly, and thank you for your underappreciated commitment to care.

We will continue to cover both the good and bad stories from within the aged care industry, but we encourage you to seek out and share as much positive and informative aged care content as you possibly can.

Because the more that people begin to understand some of the circumstances that aged care workers are actually facing, the quicker they will realise the amazing work that they are doing.


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  1. What a lovely and intelligent comment. I’m sorry you feel the need to remain anonymous because you are someone that I would like to congratulate. Unfortunately nurses feelings have been ignored but the reality is that bad news sells papers.
    Family demands have risen massively over the past few years, previously our paramount concern was that our family members were being well cared for but today it’s just as much about the view.
    Its ludicrous for families to insist on an ensuite room for your mum or dad if they are physically or mentally unable to use it. People are stupidly leaving a parent in hospital because they believe they deserve a private bathroom.
    So instead of going home to change out of your work uniform, go proudly to the shops.
    People working in aged care are the best of the best, they get pinched, punched and screamed at by the residents living with dementia… who else would do this!?
    Well done nurses.

  2. There are major problems in the aged care system and too many residents are suffering as a result. The problems are real and your claims about unrealistic expectations are a cop out Anton. If some have unrealistic expectations its because of the branding and marketing by industry and the unbnrealistic image of a world class system promoted by government.

    The negative stories are important because they expose the unacceptable things that are happening and that is why people focus on them. Without that the syatem would continue down the same path. What is needed is structural reform and we are pressing strongly for that.

    At. Aged Care Crisis much of our information has come from nursing staff who support our efforts.. We appreciate and worry that some, including the public misunderstand that it is the system that is the problem and not the staff who provide the care. Both staff and residents deserve and need real change and current policies fall a long way short of this,.

    We need more and better trained staff and better working conditions but we also need a system that confronts and addresses the consequences of residents and family vulnerability in a competitive market as well as the pressures that uncontrolled competition places on stafing

    More good news stories will not force government to address the problems that you seem to recognise. Care staff should come on board and help us get change for those who are getting poor care in spite of your efforts – but also in your own long term interests. The Four Corners programs and the Royal Commission are a response to the failures and we need to ensure that they result in the changes that are needed.

    Make sure your voices are heard at the Royal Commissions and come up wi0th constructive suggestions.

  3. Expectations of families ?? I think the only expectation would be that their loved ones are properly cared for and treated with dignity and respect, not left to rot and die.
    I’m sick of hearing the blame game….”it’s the government, the big business, management etc ad nauseum.
    These beautiful elderly are someone’s loved one, the fall-out of poor care is devastating.
    Hopefully the Royal Commisson will bring about change.

    1. Judy,
      Who’s fault is it that over 40% of residents never get a visit?
      Who is leaving them to rot and die?
      Clearly you don’t understand what is happening in aged care nor what I mean about expectations. So many people today want everything for nothing and they want the very best view to go with it.
      If you ever want to know how well the vast majority of residents are cared for then you might want to step foot in one and have a look. It’s easy to complain though isn’t it rather than do anything.

    2. I say spend some time working on the floor of an aged care facility before you judge.

      It is without doubt one of the most mentally and physically draining jobs. Through sheer exhaustion, I personally have been taken off to hospital, have been mentally and physically abused by frustrated residents and all along “the business” say just suck it up.

      Staff are underpaid, unappreciated and eventually many sustain long-term injuries.

      On my shift, 3 carers were expected to look after 30 residents. How is that possible? It’s not. Corners are cut.

      3 staff to transfer residents out to dinner, many have to be hoisted. Many assist to feed. How do 3 people serve up and clean up after a 3 course meal as well as sit down and feed 7 people who are incapable of feeding themselves. Then toilet residents after dinner, provide supper, change and wash water jugs in rooms, take residents back to rooms, sponge/shower, then prepare and get them back into bed. Then emptying bins and skips of soiled clothes/linen. Then at least an hour or so of documentation. If you are lucky, you might finish your shift on time.

      Does that give you a glimpse of what goes on? I haven’t included when things go wrong, someone falls, soils themselves just as you are serving up dinner, spills something on themselves just as a loved ones walk in and think we haven’t attended to them. The list goes on and on.
      I entered this industry to make a difference in providing the best possible care for our elderly who deserve a happy passage to the end of life. Unfortunately the greed of these “businesses” is taking its toll and many great carers and nurses are walking away for their own self-preservation.

      Nothing will change in these facilities until staff numbers are increased substantially with appropriately trained staff. Our elderly deserve the best and the care they are getting in aged care facilities is simply not good enough.

  4. Having worked in aged care for decades, my experiences have been as follows. Care workers are neither understood or appreciated. For every nightmare story, there are dozens of loving relationships between residents and staff. The nurse usually has very little control over staffing decisions. Facility owners spend so much of their budget on the building and grounds, there is little funding left to adequately staff. The elaborate building is needed to lure in families who are wowed by the amenities. Unethical administrators promise prospective residents the moon to get them to sign on the dotted line. Direct care workers are left holding the bag. And the blame. We cannot complain without taking action to change public policy.

  5. Wow! Beautifully said Gail and Anton. The only people that really know what happens onthe wards of any facility are the AINs or PCs. RNs are so clogged up with paper work they seem more like administration! No RN or EN ever showers anyone.Alot are very quick to point out to us “peasants” when a buzzer goes off even when they are walking past it knowing that the staff are so very busy with tee trolley bathes, hosting a s ok met in mes 3 staff need to hoist one person! There is toiletings inbetween, stomas to attend to ( yes that is supposed to be En/RN’s responsibility just as the medications used to be. So not only are we stretched to the max with demands of residents’ varied needs and mental health needs we are also given less time to do our work. Caring. At not $23 an hour it isn’t hard to see why good carers leave in the droves and some staff lose their ability to want to do more. They’re exhausted physically and mentally! Staying back on average half an hour with no paid overtime! Unbelievable!

  6. I will not hold my breath for our Government to give a lot more funding to aged care! It will never happen! Unless they see that understaffing and under qualified peoples are working in the sector we are all doomed! It may be cheaper to keep the elderly at home but they are the minority! Most are in Aged Care because they cannot stay home any longer because of their special circumstances be it dementia or Parkinson’s or physical incapacities. We are on a slippery slope backwards in this country!


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