What happens around the proverbial water cooler is a fundamental aspect of working life. Chatting with colleagues over a light refreshment can relieve the pressure of work, facilitate new friendships, and provide opportunities to deliver encouragement and support – not to mention provide sustenance for the remainder of the working day.
The ‘water cooler’ may exist as a literal water dispenser in an unremarkable corridor. It may be a small kitchenette in your workplace, or it could be a comfortably equipped domain stocked with supplies more varied and higher quality than those in your own home.
A member of HelloCare’s Aged Care Worker Support Group, John*, recently wrote a social media post about his staffroom – claiming his employer supplies unlimited freshly cut onions, tomatoes, cheese and bread for the sandwich press, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, cordial and Electrolytes in all of its three staff rooms.
‘Hit the jackpot’
The generous facilities and supplies means John feels he’s “hit the jackpot” with his employer.
“What does your residential facility supply for your benefit in the staff rooms?” he asked the group.
The post was inundated with nearly 200 responses. Most of the comments said John is lucky, and they’d like to know where he works so they can join him!
Several commented they are provided with only “a table and chairs”.
However, the majority of aged care staff rooms are stocked with:
Milo and fruit were also quite common.
Many provided basic cooking equipment, such as cutlery, a toaster, kettle, sandwich press and microwave. Some have a coffee machine – and most have a refrigerator.
A few uncommon, but appreciated, inclusions were:
Some have a vending machine, although one commenter said theirs is broken and another said hers hasn’t been stocked in months.
A few said senior staff and managers sometimes bring in cookies, cakes or hot cross buns.
Sometimes pizza is put on for staff, too. One member of the support group said, “All we get offered is a pizza and that’s once in a blue moon.”
Some can buy their lunches at work, sometimes for a below-market charge.
Morning and afternoon tea and meals leftover from the residents are also taken to staff rooms in some aged care homes – an appreciated gesture.
“They put dinner in the staff room if there is heaps left over,” one member of the group said.
One commenter noted their aged care home puts out “pamper stands” for staff in the bathrooms, including sanitary products, dry shampoo, hair spray, moisturisers, perfume and “stuff for the boys”, too.
A focus on costs
One member of the support group said her aged care home “can barely feed the residents” let alone “worrying about the staff”.
Sometimes supplies were given, but then taken away, which seemed to make staff feel the absence all the more.
“Our facility at one stage provided frozen sandwiches to go in the sandwich press but that didn’t last long,” one member of the support group wrote.
Staff room access restricted during COVID-19
There were several observations about numbers being restricted in the staff room during the pandemic.
“We have a very small staff room that for months was restricted to four people sitting down. It’s currently closed except for ‘walk through’ because of the COVIDE situation … At least we do have some undercover areas we can use if it’s wet.”
It’s perhaps no coincidence the original poster’s employer, who stocks the staff room so generously, also has “friendly and approachable” management.
“They have an open door policy where, from day one, I have had the owner’s mobile/email if I wanted to raise anything. The facilities are very nice. The residents are awesome. Most of the AIN’s are incredible humans.”
The original poster was keen for other aged care employers to see how easily staff can be made to feel supported and appreciated.
“It’s not hard and doesn’t need to be very expensive to look after the backbone of the facilities,” he said.
What does your residential aged care facility supply for your benefit in the staff room? Share with us below.
*Not his real name.