More than 60 per cent of aged care workers report they face unfilled shifts at their facilities every single day, highlighting the urgency surrounding recommendations made to the Aged Care Royal Commission today.
“A snap poll of more than 400 aged care workers shows aged care is stretched to breaking point,” United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith said today.
“Minimum staffing levels – as recommended by the counsel assisting the Royal Commission – is a necessary first step to addressing chronic understaffing across the sector.
“Workers and residents should not have to wait until July 1, 2022 for these changes to take place. The disaster is unfolding right here, right now.”
Ms Smith welcomed the positive role for unions identified by the counsel assisting the Royal Commission, and said the fine detail of the recommended measures would need to be examined to ensure they resulted in real wage rises for workers and quality care for residents.
In the poll conducted this week, 62 per cent of 410 aged care workers said shifts were left unfilled “about once a day” or more often.
Alarmingly, more than a quarter of the aged care workers surveyed – 26 per cent – said shifts were left unfilled “more than once a shift”.
“When you get right down to it the burn out, the exhaustion and the stress is due to chronic understaffing and chronic underfunding,” Ms Smith said.
“That stress and exhaustion is demonstrated in the fact 60 per cent of aged care workers report that every day there are simply not enough people to provide the quality care Australia’s most vulnerable deserve.
“It’s great that the recommendations to the Royal Commission continue to highlight the Federal Government’s long-standing neglect, but these recommendations need to be brought into place for residents and workers as soon as possible.”
The snap poll of aged care workers from Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia was part of the broader National Aged Care Staffing Master Plan, where more than 2000 aged care workers have aired their views about what the future of aged care should look like.
In the survey, workers highlight the stress they face every day.
A West Australian aged care member said: “With the extra work load and the negativity that staff bring to work I’ve been exhausted most days.
“It’s hard to call in sick as we are always down so many almost every day.
“I’ve found myself mentally and physically exhausted. Our managers do what they can to help lighten the load and improve staff morale but it’s just been very difficult.”