Recommendations to the Royal Commission to adopt minimum staffing levels in residential aged care would be “transformative” for aged care workers and residents, United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith said today.
“But there is a need for many of these recommendations to be accelerated. The disaster in aged care is happening right here, right now,” Ms Smith said.
“Right now, we are dealing with workers who face shifts where they are left to care for 18 residents by themselves.
“In a snap poll of 400 aged care workers this week, we saw six out of 10 aged care workers report they faced unfilled shifts once a day.
“Even more shockingly, 26 per cent of workers said they faced more than one unfilled shift every shift.
“Aged care workers have repeatedly stated they simply do not have enough time to care for those they care for.
“In a survey released in July this year 75 per cent of 1000 aged care workers said they did not have enough staff to provide quality care.
“In early results of a survey of more than 2000 aged care workers we are working on now, every indication is things are getting even worse.
“Now, more than 80 per cent of workers say they simply do not have enough staff to provide quality care to their residents.”
The most-recent survey for the union’s National Aged Care Staffing Master Plan has also highlighted widespread examples of heavy workloads and emotional distress of workers unable to offer the care they feel residents should receive:
“Two carers to 15 dementia residents is not sufficient to meet human standards of living. You cannot follow duty of care for falls risks, meet hygiene needs, support the residents’ emotional needs or assist people with eating difficulties.”
“On a daily basis staff have to work for 2 hours alone, looking after 18 residents, and we get told off for not answering a call bell on time.”
“I am worn out and run down. After 11 years working for aged care I am exhausted.”
Ms Smith said minimum staffing levels, increasing workers’ wages and improved training would give quality care to Australia’s most vulnerable, and much-needed relief to a workforce that had worked throughout the pandemic.
“The crisis in aged care staffing is an indictment on Federal Government failures and the natural consequences of underfunding and understaffing,” Ms Smith said.