Short staffed, injured, stressed and exhausted: This is working in aged care

Short staffed, injured, stressed and exhausted: This is working in aged care

An anonymous aged care worker has said that industry providers need to deliver more supports to its tired and exhausted workforce and take better care of the people keeping their facilities running.

“I’ve worked in aged care for about 16 years. Over this time we have lost hours in all areas, going from three personal support workers to two for 20 residents, a mixture of high care, dementia, and mental health care. The workload is much heavier. 

Management promotes the idea of being resident-focused, but realistically we are task-focused. 

Carers are requiring more time off for work-related injuries/Workcover. Some require surgery for shoulders and back injuries. Some may never return to work. The cost of this would be significantly high in the long term – the loss of income and super, the loss of training. How do people cope in their retirement years? 

It would be more cost-effective long term to have sufficient staff coverage of all shifts.

Paramedics ask for the weight of a resident for transfers so they have sufficient staff and equipment. It’s part of their workplace health and safety. But as carers, we are not provided with the same courtesy.

For the most part, personal care workers are caring people and want to put their residents first and advocate for their health and wellbeing. They will often stay back, and work double shifts, often to the detriment of their own health and family life. 

Some don’t take regular leave or manage their own health. Stress can be a major factor: overthinking, working in pain, and no work-life balance. 

Companies should look after the very people that keep these facilities running – with stretching, physio, massage, positive communication, and encouraging the team to look out for each other. What we have instead is a lot of guilt and blame – divide and conquer. 

Education is great, and we should all be moving forward in the way we care for others, but also in how we care for ourselves.”

The author wishes to remain anonymous to protect their identity. The article has been lightly edited for readability.

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