Aged care newsletter

Posted on
May 14, 2020
Aged Care Sector

Your fortnightly union update

Big aged care announcements in past 2 weeks

Many aged care providers have requested a funding boost of $1.3 billion to help deal with the COVID-19 response, and the federal government responded with an additional $205 million in funding ($900 per bed) to contribute to ‘extra costs’ like screening visitors.

More money is good news, but there are few strings attached, so we're skeptical much of it will make it to the floor or worker’s pockets. In fact, we're already hearing of people being pulled from the floor to cover screening or family calls, and then not back-filled on the floor to provide care, so we need to make sure the funding gets where it needs to go and isn’t lost in the ether.

There was also an important federal court case that saw a big for-profit provider ordered to pay millions in penalties and refunds for residents who paid for services they didn’t receive.

These stories, and the recent strings-free funding announcement, show the need for systematic reform of the system that prioritises ACFI and not care.

Cleaning and laundry issues sound familiar?

Cleaning and laundry staff at Eliza Purton have had enough of their current workload situation, and for some time they've felt their concerns about workload have fallen on deaf ears when they’ve raised them with management.

Weekday cleaners are still trying to do the same work they've done for years with less staff and more areas to clean, and staff cleaning on a weekend are still cleaning up after the same amount of residents but with just one cleaner on shift compared to five on weekdays.

Laundry staff are inundated with mountains of smelly laundry bags on a Monday due to not operating on a Sunday.

Finally, workers been able to put their case forward and be heard after a recent pow-wow with Eliza’s Facility Manager, HR and the Services and Procurement Manager, and will soon be able to view some proposed changes, and provide feedback, that will hopefully ease the current workload situation.

Members should always jump at the opportunity to provide feedback when it's offered as it's the chance to put a case forward without fear of repercussion.

If issues like these sound familiar, get in touch with HACSU so we can help. 

Negotiations in a COVID-19 world

As we can’t physically get out to see members in aged care workplaces we've had to come up with even more ways to communicate, and bargaining hasn’t stopped because of COVID-19, but meeting in large groups is obviously no longer possible.

Last week we needed to speak to our members at one facility about their thoughts on staff agreement negotiations, and we wanted to know whether a 3% wage increase would be acceptable, so we got in touch via email, text and phone calls.

If we’re bargaining for a new staff agreement or dealing with issues in your workplace, you can except us to communicate with you using some of these channels.

Take care and stay safe – you are all doing a great job!  

Challenging times with workload in aged care

Working in aged care at the moment is certainly a trying time - on top of all the usual workplace goings-on there's COVID-19 and all the extra workload associated with that, and throw in a gastro outbreak and a behavioural issue or two and it's challenging at best.

HACSU has seen an increase in individual workplace grievances lately and the majority are around incorrect personal protective equipment use, or no use of it at all, with regards to infection control.

Complying with new standards can sometimes mean changing masks and gloves several times in quick succession, but we can’t stress enough that staff must take their time and be sure to follow workplace PPE guidelines for infection control and avoid safety risks and getting pinned by the employer.

If that means not getting all tasks done in the allocated shift then hand them over to the next shift - that's what handover is for after all.

Unfortunately, most employers haven't increased staff to cover the extra workload, so utilising handover is the best way management will get to know the pressure staff are under on any given day.

If any member has questions or worries about workload, please give us a call on 1300 880 032.

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email or complete our online contact form

Aged Care Sector