After working hard for many years to secure commitments from major parties to change aged care for the better, we now have a government that has come to power with policies that would see real change on the ground.
But the fight doesn’t end here. Now it’s time to hold the new government to account for their promises. That means:
• Wages will rise for aged care workers
• Nurses will be on site in aged care homes24/7
• Every aged care resident will receive 215minutes of care per day
• Increased workforce
• Mandatory nutrition standards in aged care homes
• Aged care providers will be required to report on how they spend taxpayer dollars
Our claim for a25% wage rise for all aged care workers as part of the Work Value Case at the Fair Work Commission is particularly close to our heart. The new government will file their submission to the Fair Work Commission supporting higher wages for aged care workers by August.
Health Minister Mark Butler has also said nurses will be mandated 24/7 in residential facilities by next July – with the legislation one of the top priorities once parliament sits.
While we already have some welcome good news, we aren’t taking our foot off the accelerator. The fight to change aged care goes on!
Have you ever been directed to take your meal breaks and drink breaks outside instead of in your staff room? This is exactly what has happened at one aged care facility along the north west.
Understandably, due to COVID, management may not want everyone in a room at once – but we are now in the middle of winter, which means the conditions outside are not suitable for taking hydration and meal breaks, and staff may fall sick by continually having to go out in the cold.
It is up to facilities to create several makeshift staff rooms, limit numbers in current staff rooms or stagger breaks. If you have been directed to take breaks outside, make sure you contact HACSUassist so we can raise the implications of this with management.
We are aware that working short is getting bigger than Ben Hur in aged care. We often find that where workers say nothing, nothing gets done.
Sometimes even raising it directly with the facility manager can hit a brick wall (although it’s always a good first step). But when union members contact HACSU and then HACSU contacts their facility manager, miraculously, there can be movement.
We recently had a facility that was dropping the short shifts and only replacing the long shifts, and they told staff that was because they were down residents. The issue was that they were not replacing staff in the dementia area that was full, so the excuse did not stack up.
Once we pointed out that the dementia wing needed to be fully staffed at all times – bingo, all shifts in that area were fully staffed the very next day.
If your facility is continually short-staffed, please contact us, and we will try to rectify the issue.
While short staffing is a sector-wide issue, often there are small fixes that can make a big difference if we tackle it together!
Your roster may need to be changed for operational reasons from time to time. For example, when a worker asks for annual leave or if someone calls in sick, the roster would need to be adjusted accordingly.
However, it’s different if employers want to implement roster changes for all staff via a roster restructure. If this is the case, there should always be a consultation process, and your employer shouldn’t put changes into practice until they consult staff properly about the proposed changes and have staff feedback.
Permanent staff should also be consulted if the proposed roster changes will affect their contracted hours, especially if your employer is looking to reduce your contracted hours. Although the hours you are contracted for can be different from the hours you work regularly, you can only work above your contracted hours, not below them.
If major roster restructures are happening in your workplace without any consultation with you, please give HACSUassist a call to have a chat about your options.
Never go to a meeting on your own
Have you ever been called into the management office for a “chat”, and then it turned into something a little more than you expected?
As a union member, you have every right to put a halt to the meeting and tell management that you need to reschedule so you can have a support person or representative to ensure any serious issues are dealt with properly.
It is the same if you are ever presented with a disciplinary letter and are asked to have a discussion about it. You don’t have to and should never attend these meetings on your own.
On these “called to a meeting” occasions, your first port of call should be to contact HACSUassist and let us know.
Being in the union means having union support whenever you need it in your workplace, so make sure you use your union membership and let us protect your rights at work.