Feb 23, 2022

Rival health providers fighting for nurses amid staff shortage

Rivals fighting over nursing staff

The aged care sector at large has been questioned, even from the onset of the pandemic, for its substantial usage of casual staff and the knock-on effects of significant COVID-19 spread. 

Estia now has plummeted its transient staff use to around 6% of entire hours filled.

The Australian reports that Ian Thorley, the provider’s chief executive, has conveyed that adjusting the ratio of casual to permanent staff has been more in keeping with Estia’s desire to procure and hold talent, as the nation struggles against an entrenched shortage of nurses – finding enough staff to cover its 6,000 beds across 69 facilities has been no small feat.

The numbers paint a serious picture. Australia will be in need of a further 85,000 nurses within three years, as laid out by the commonwealth. The labour shortage crisis is only assessed to deteriorate for most nursing facilities after the aged care royal commission called for every resident to be secured 40 minutes of care per day from a registered nurse, as of July. 

Mr Thorley stated that drastically reducing the use of casual nurses means a raised employee value offering by Estia. 

Continuing, “It’s a little bit like Ramsay has done. They are a fantastic organisation and they attract the best workers because of the company they are. So that’s one of our ambitions as well.”

The nation’s largest private hospital operator, Ramsay, is set to procure 550 graduate nurses in February – its largest ever intake cohort – in a move seen as maneuvering through the labour shortage crisis.

The intensifying struggle for nurses arrives at a time where Estia has sunk further in its half-year loss, from $5.58 million to just over $8 million from July to December 2021.

However, Mr Thorley commented that the Omicron outbreak was now passing from the majority of its nursing residences.

The company’s shares have risen by over 3% to sit at a recent $2.12.

Across December, Estia’s revenue bolstered by just over 3% to arrive at $342.5 million, as the pandemic began to ease. 

Yet Thorley noted that when Omicron swept through in January, the spread was swift, infecting over 70% of the nation’s nursing facilities.

Mr Thorley added, “I would like to extend my condolences to the families of those residents who have died during the pandemic.

“As of 21 February 2022, the group is seeing a stabilisation, with the number of homes directly impacted by an outbreak having fallen significantly and with that, a corresponding reduction in employee and resident cases.

“I am confident Estia is emerging from this phase of the pandemic as a stronger organisation, well-placed to succeed in a reformed sector and benefit from the favourable demographics of an ageing Australian population and the need for residential care.”

Matt Johnston, a Jarden analyst, noted that, “Our thesis doesn‘t change post [first-half] results and we believe the recovery thematic is intact.

“Estia is in a recovery from Covid and from an oversupply and funding cuts. We believe there are positives investors need to focus on and its strong balance sheet.” 

Estia is set to pay out an interim dividend of $2.35, fully franked, per share as of March 18.

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  1. Is it lawful for a big Aged Care establishment to make staff wait an extra day before getting your fortnightly pay?? My place is holding off on paying us an extra day due to the main headquarters being in Melbourne and the public holidays in Melbourne which happen like only twice a year effecting people’s pay. But we are now waiting 15 days to get paid! Depending on what bank you are with youbwill get paid on the Wed night but alotnof staffndon’t get paid until Thursday morning like 3.00am!! This cannot be fair or right surely!! 14 days waitnis bad enough but 15?? Boy do I wish we got paid weekly as it is so much easier to budget but big companies save by this fortnightly wait!!

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