Three aged care workers on what it’s really like in the industry

Three aged care workers

In Ms Hofman’s 34 years in the sector, she’s seen nurse-to-resident ratios plummet.

It’s just one of many areas of concern highlighted in last year’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

While it’s been an opportunity for many in the industry to be held to account, spare a thought for the workers who are still struggling to provide basic care to residents.

Ms Hofman is also noticing elderly people entering aged care older, sicker, frailer and with more complex medication regimes than ever before.

To cut costs, aged care providers have replaced many nursing staff with personal care assistants who are paid less and aren’t required to have a formal qualification.

Ms Hofman, who is also on the council of the New South Wales nursing union, says with fewer nurses on staff, elderly residents can face delays in getting clinical care and end up in hospital.

Ms Hofman’s message to the government is simple: “It is time to stop dragging your feet.

‘It’s depressing, a continual fight’

Registered nurse and nursing union member Rebecca Woodfield has clocked up a quarter of a century working in aged care, and currently works as a manager.

Ms Woodfield says without dedicated aged care staff working extra hours unpaid, residents would not even get basic care.

“It’s depressing and a continual fight.”

Recently she was told about a facility where one personal care assistant was required to administer medication for 50 residents.

“There are so many issues with that,” she said.

She gets emotional when asked to reflect on why she continues to work in the industry under such difficult conditions – she stays because of the residents.

“These people have paid their taxes all their lives, just because they are ill and unable to care for themselves shouldn’t mean they lose out.

“I am passionate about this. It is the only holistic nursing out there, it is a great area to work in, we just need a bit of help.”

‘No time to just chat’ 

Enrolled nurse and ANMF work site representative Adam Weaver wanted to work in aged care because he wanted to make a difference in the lives of elderly Australians.

He’s worked in the sector for 18 years and has noticed a decline in care, staffing ratios, lifestyle and activities for residents.

“There is no time to just chat. No time to be one-on-one with residents.”

As well as mandating staffing ratios, the ANMF also wants the government to fund 10-15 per cent wage increase for all aged care workers to better protect and retain quality staff.

“People don’t understand how hard it is. You have to physically do stuff for people, rolling, showering, cleaning people, you become very attached to these people as well,” Mr Weaver says.

He says every Australian should care about the state of aged care.

“This is our future, this is what people have to look forward to,” he says.

To read more, click here.

Article originally published on www.abc.net.au. Republished with permission. 

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  1. I would suggest perhaps that there is a balance here that needs to be represented. The media, including this medium, appears to focus on the negative aspects of the industry and the providers who put profit before people. Whilst there is that bias in the industry, a shift which has occurred over the last 10 years or so, it does not represent all of the industry. I have worked for the NFP and FP sector and one of the key things I have learnt is that those who work in facilities generally do so for the same reasons, and have the same care, respect and love for the residents. What is evident, is that the propensity of Boards to employ former financial oriented people has meant that the focus of the Executive has become predominantly financial, in the absence of an operational balance.

  2. I am very sad to read of Jocelyn’s tough and sad times in aged care. I do not believe this is representative of all aged care services, as many have very effective and caring managers, extraordinary staff across all departments, not just direct care, supported by a dedicated, voluntary Board or Committee of Management. I have also worked in residential services where I was bullied, unfairly treated and not given the resources to do my job properly. I fought the bullying and unfair treatment cases and was successful in having them managed, then I left the organizations. I decided to ensure wherever I work I will not be like the other managers; I manage bullying and harassment in the work place and we have fair and equitable employment for our staff.

  3. Everybody in the country should be reading these articles .
    I just wish they were easier to share

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