Jan 11, 2022

RFBI chief Frank Price urges action on aged care staff pressures

RFBI chief Frank Price urges action on aged care staff pressures

In September 2021, I wrote to Minister Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Services, along with 13 fellow signatories, and proposed a suite of short and long-term solutions to tackle the workforce challenges the aged care sector was facing at that time.

It is vital that we understand that without an aged care workforce, there will be no aged care.

The aged care worker shortage is not a new issue. It is one that has been reported on, reviewed and highlighted to the government for decades.

But right now, with an avalanche of Omicron cases in the community and within the sector, it is definitely the worst I have seen it.

Then there is the additional compliance thrust upon the industry in the middle of a pandemic, which is taking RNs off the floor so they can provide streams of reports.

The current workforce situation is not sustainable and we need the government to take action now.

The solutions we proposed were ignored because the government believed that the situation would improve once border restrictions relaxed.

But, unfortunately, the situation has only deteriorated.

We need more people on the floor right now. To achieve that we need to be able to bring people in. But we need a sustainable workforce, so it can’t be exclusively immigration.

The first step in rectifying the workforce crisis is pay aged care workers a wage that is in line with that paid to the hospital and disability sectors – meaning a 20 to 25% increase on their current wage – as well as providing incentives for students to become nurses, such as discounted university fees.

The next step is to add aged care workers as a skilled occupation on the migration list for the next four years.

Royal Freemasons Benevolent Society Institution has plans to bring in 100 overseas workers between now and June 2022, with three internationally qualified nurses having already arrived to work as carers in our facilities and train to be recognised as registered nurses in Australia.

The measures outlined to the minister will provide a solution to the current crisis, but it requires all of the players to come to the table.

All of us need to fight for aged care workers and fight for our older community members. Imagine the consequences if we don’t.

We have to change the narrative. We have to provide hope, but we can’t do it on our own.

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  1. Unfortunately this Government and the senior public servants who regulate and administer Aged Care are incapable of change.

    Whoever makes up the next Government may be better ? ?

    However, nothing will change until the current senior Aged Care regulators are replaced by people who are not responsible for the existing disgracefully inefficient processes.

  2. I fully support the thoughts in this piece, Thank You Frank Price. I have and I know many CEO’s MD’s and workers have been demoralised by the lack of targeted action by a Government who cynically relies on the $17B budget allocation to Aged Care!!! WE know the truth even if some of the general public do not. The $17B does not touch and is not allocated to touch the staffing issue in regards to pay and if that isn’t the first step, then other initiatives will be wasted because how can you drive an expectation of upskilling and further education, a professional work force etc. if, in the first instance Aged Care staff are not appropriately remunerated for the current expectations placed upon them.

  3. Hi Frank,
    I totally agree with all the sentiments in your article. I have worked in aged care as a dementia specialist for 10 years. Never have I seen such desperate burn out, exhaustion and depression amongst fellow staff. We are responsible for the loved ones of so many,yet we are stretched beyond belief not only wearing PPE ,thus frightening residents,but with staff shortages due to either stress or sickness we have the added daily documentation to deal with. The pay rate has always amazed me, certainly not a livable wage. As you say the government obviously does not place enough value on the daily commitment we make every day. I still have hope that 1 day things will change.
    Best wishes
    Michael Preston

  4. I have only one comment to make. The “Honorable” Aged Care Minister needs to be kicked out of his chair and disposed of. Absolutely useless and only there to enjoy the easily gained fruits of no labour!
    That lot will not get my vote!

  5. I have left Aged Care, a job that I loved working in for the last 19 years. I have had at least twice that amount of bosses in that time. Most have come in with their own agenda and mess up everything that is working. those that come in and do care seem to get shafted by upper management and leave. Also we have been run by Melbourne and I know that it was difficult for them to come to WA during Covid. However they refused to have Zoom meeting with the staff some are leaving or are finding it very hard to finish there daily Jobs. The ones that are missing out are our residents. They are very lonely as the staff do not have much time to sit with them and chat. So much paperwork to get through on the computer that some staff are staying behind in there own time to be able to complete this. The list just goes on and it seems like it will never end. All I can say is god help us all when we get to this stage.

  6. I suspect the Government believes they are spending enough on Aged Care atm with all the PPE they have spent money on so why would they want to help the elderly anymore? 3 years ago we kept hearing how the elderly were a burden on the tax payer. And now they are high on morals trying to save our elderly with immunisations and staff immunisation. So they obviously feel they have spent enough money on the sector. As far as the Aged Care Workers in the private sector, well, they’re on their own. After all it is mostly women doing “care work” and we live in a world that still sees any work women do in a caring work force as not valuable enough to pay what they deserve compared to other work with less responsibility. Care workers job description is very confronting and very up close and personal that not many could do or would want to do but most of us will be at the receiving end of these care workers in time. It is inevitable.

  7. Staff Ratios are a Major problem and EVERYBODY knows this. So they shld be mandated there is no way 1 Carer can care for 6-10 Residents in High Care. For God’s sake do something..

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