There's no shortage of issues in aged care at the moment, from the government flip-flopping again on its failed vaccination roll-out, to the state’s largest provider Southern Cross Care cutting pay and conditions to the bone. While we’re currently working through those issues, we can’t put it better than the aged care worker did in their resignation letter at the end of this newsletter. This is the reality of the sector and why we need to change aged care.
Recently we raised concerns to the CEO at Meercroft about a family member of a resident wanting a personal camera installed in the resident’s room. This is not the first time we’ve dealt with issues like this.
We told the CEO that this type of monitoring from family members can foster a very negative environment amongst staff and that workers also feared that such a camera might be used against them by the family member without having the full story behind specific footage the camera may capture.
Meercroft’s CEO completely agreed with us on this and she reassured staff that she had already advised the family member that no personal camera would be allowed in the resident’s room.
If you have anything similar going on in your workplace, please contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 so that we can raise it to management.
SCC’s proposed new agreement is absolutely insulting for aged care workers who are already overworked and underpaid.
After the royal commission said aged care workers’ wages are too low, this is what SCC put on the table for their workers:
• Removing paid meal breaks for shift workers
• Sunday penalty rates cut down to time and three quarters from double time
• Afternoon shift penalty cut back from 15% to 10–12.5%
• Night shift penalty cut from 19% to 10–15%
• What counts as a week’s work will be 38 hours, not 37.5 hours as is the case for many employees now. That’s another 30 minutes of work a week. Not only shift workers will have to work longer days, day workers will too.
• They want the option to trade away these penalty rates and your overtime through individual agreements, where currently they can’t
• Redundancies have been totally re-written, which could be another cut to your pay packet when leaving
• No more real casual conversation rights for those who want to become permanent
• They want to introduce broken shifts, meaning working a few hours at the beginning and the end of one day with a huge break in between
• They want to consultation obligations so all they need to do is to tell you once a decision has been made, not before
And the list goes on and on!
We’re visiting all SCC facilities and telling workers to vote no to SCC’s nasty proposal and to be prepared to fight against these cuts.
Sign the petition here to support workers at Southern Cross Care.
Excessive workloads can really harm workers’ mental, emotional and physical health, and fatigue is a major cause of workplace accidents and incidents.
Employers rarely deal with it unless prompted by workers’ action, and some mistakenly believe it’s your problem and you should manage your time better, spend less time talking or work more quickly – but this is a blatant attempt to shift their responsibility onto staff.
If you don’t report excessive workload, you’re enabling management to never address it and encouraging them to keep pushing for more ‘efficiency targets’ because they think that if no one’s complaining there must be more ‘fat to trim’.
You can find yourself in a catch-22 where you want to report excessive workload but you’re so busy and keep putting off doing the paperwork required to formally lodge a complaint. But it’s important to complete an incident report every time you identify an unsafe condition and encourage workmates to do the same.
An incident report places responsibility and accountability back onto the employer where it belongs, gives them nowhere to hide, and can be the start of a paper trail to identify and demonstrate the existence of ongoing problems unresolved by managers.
How you can recognise excessive workload:
• Inadequate time to complete work
• Insufficient number of staff to complete work
• Excessive hours
• Insufficient breaks
• Performing tasks beyond your position’s statement of duties
• Lack of necessary resources to carry out the work
• Rostering with inadequate time for rest to avoid fatigue
What you can do about it:
• Address it as a risk by raising it at Workplace Health & Safety committee meetings
• Submit incident reports to increase your employer’s awareness
• Use the in-house complaint procedure to voice workload concerns and ask colleagues to do the same, or management won’t understand it’s a widespread problem
• Organise a meeting through your HACSU delegate
• Have regular contact with your Health &Safety Rep or WHS committee representative or become one - HACSU can help you in this process
• Take breaks when they’re due and encourage everyone to do the same. Don’t work through them or cut them short or you endanger your workplace health and safety and create an atmosphere where legitimate breaks are viewed as an optional extra and those who take them are viewed as lazy or not team players.
• Ask for a risk assessment of your working conditions
• Fully understand what’s expected of you by reading your job description and knowing your workplace policies and procedures
• Discover what training is available for your role to assist with your workplace safety
Don’t give up -never underestimate the power of committed people. It’s the only thing that’s ever created change.
If you’re worried about your workload, HACSUassist offers support and guidance for members and all calls are confidential. Just call 1300 880 032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week we had two members tell us they were resigning from their positions in aged care, one was an ECA and the other a nurse. They sent us a copy of their resignation letters, both of a similar nature. It wasn’t just a resignation from their current employer; it was a resignation from aged care.
The government must understand that the way aged care is funded and managed it's not sustainable and it's about time proper funding was put into aged care to enable proper staffing levels and to make aged care a rewarding job that people want to stay in.
Here's the letter:
To whom it may concern,
It is with much reluctance that I tender my resignation at [REDACTED] as an Extended Assistant of almost 14 years across 2 sites, the other being 8 years which I enjoyed immensely. This will also see me resign from my position as Health and Safety Representative.
During my time at [REDACTED] over the last 6 years I have enjoyed every aspect of my position held at this facility. I feel it is time for me to step aside and allow new staff to gain the experiences which I have gained in this time, for themselves. The position of an extended care assistant has become stressful, demanding and to myself, dissatisfying as a care worker.
Some time ago, I always looked forward to coming to work and to have a harmonious workflow, enjoy the shift without rushing, being able to have time to sit and talk with the residents after care has been completed or chat with other members of the team whether it be from the kitchen, laundry, cleaning, nursing, administration.
I miss the time to sit and accurately construct precise observations of a resident’s care in the day to day work environment on the online workplace reporting system due to the high demand for extra hands on with Dementia residents and tasks throughout the shifts.
Many staff are forced to completing their online notes in their breaks and at lunch, this is not acceptable which is a reflection of staff feeling under pressure and not feeling like they accomplished at the end of the shift, what they set out to achieve at the commencement of their shift.
Numerous residents on hoists and extra care needs of wandering/high falls risks, assist feeds, toileting also consume quite a large part of our shift not allowing for the accuracy of snapshots on the system and documentation on paper-based charting.
I feel my health, not only physical but mental health has suffered due to the higher care needs entering the facility and the rushing between care of residents, the taking on of kitchen tasks which is unnecessary due to high resident needs. The demands are increasing all the time and I feel the staff are feeling fatigued and burning out due to the higher demands and excessive expectations from management to achieve targets/benchmarks etc. I am all for empowering others in the workplace to work independently and to think for themselves and to manage their own time in the busiest of work environments, this almost seems unachievable which is very disheartening.
Lack of communication from Management in the area of staff being listened to, to increase the staff ratio to resident care needs, need to be at the forefront of a more harmonious, calm and well organised and managed workplace. I know staffing is increased at times but never completely effective, please listen to your staff.
As a trainer of students and buddy to new staff coming into the aged care environment, I have always enjoyed learning about the person not just what they are here for, to be a carer but how to help them adjust to their new environment.
My one comment I always say to new and upcoming staff is to "always protect your back as you only have one" and "what you did well yesterday – do it better tomorrow."
I am feeling the strains on my body from the last few years with the higher pace and excessive workload expectations put on us as carers, especially in more recent times.
I have had time to reflect on my past experiences within the company and find that most have been invaluable experiences and enjoyable.
I cannot continue going to work each day and see myself and my fellow staff members struggle to get all the tasks associated with the care and clinical needs of residents done, nothing changes it just appears to be a task driven process we just do not have time to do something as simple as sitting and talking to a resident. I took up working in aged care to make a difference, to care for the frail and elderly this is something that the current aged care system does not allow for.
I want to be happy, not grumpy. I want to be active, not tired. I want to now enjoy my time with my family without feeling worn out and fatigued.
I still want to work but I am done. I am spent I just cannot do it anymore there is just not enough of us to do what is required to be done to give quality care to our elderly.
Now it’s time to see what other things are out there!