Aged care workers across Australia have been speaking out about the challenges they face working in aged care, and they are sending a clear message to the federal government: saying thank you is not enough.
For decades, the aged care sector has been understaffed, underfunded and underpaid, they say.
If the government was truly grateful for the work of aged care workers, it would fix the system, not just offer ‘empty words’, the aged care workers told United Workers Union.
“I have been a personal care attendant for 19 years and I love my job,” said South Australian aged care worker, Ehying.
“But the expectations on carers are too high and there’s not enough time to do the job properly. Thank you is not enough.”
“In a 12-hour shift I sometimes walk more than 25,000 steps as I provide care to those I care for,” she said.
“It’s nice to get the thanks, but give me the action,” said West Australian aged care worker, Melinda.
“We’re so short-staffed, we’re underfunded. No more words please.”
Queensland aged care worker, Diane, said, “Every shift needs more hands on deck. I’ve worked around seven and a half years in aged care and this was an issue before COVID as well.
“Residents love to have a chat. I want to ask, ‘how was your night’s sleep?’ and to listen to their response before whipping them into their clothes. But we are so rushed; there just isn’t enough time.”
In October 2020, aged care workers in South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia attended meetings organised by United Workers Union to discuss the challenges they face and the solutions available.
“The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the broken aged care system for what it is,” said United Workers Union Aged Care director, Carolyn Smith.
“Understaffed, overworked and underpaid carers are expected to hold the system together. Yet there have been no concrete steps towards a permanent fix for aged care workers.
“Aged carers feel ripped off by the bungled retention bonus, pressured by bans on jobs without any thought of the impact on them or their centres, and ignored by government during the crisis.
“It’s no wonder aged care workers are saying ‘thank you is not enough’.”