We wrote to management recently with concerns about both workers’ and residents’ safety due to the short staffing at Strathdevon.
We’ve told management that workers are leaving the facility both mentally and physically exhausted and often dehydrated and hungry because they don’t have the time to stop for their hydration and meal breaks and that some are even leaving in tears.
We also said that workers are concerned that the lack of staff is placing the residents’ safety at risk. Short staffing means wounds, toileting, pads and medications are taking longer to be dealt with, leaving vulnerable residents at risk of infection, behaviours and falls, especially when they’re trying to take matters into their own hands.
We’ve also let management know that we have witnessed short staffing first handon several of our visits to Strathdevon over the last month.
Chrissie Kells from People and Culture in Melbourne has since written back, saying:
In regards to the issues you have raised about the Strathdevon staffing levels, I confirm that Uniting AgeWell (UA) endeavours at all times to have safe staffing levels and that the safety of our employees and residents is of utmost importance.
I note that you visited Strathdevon 27 October 2022 and I can advise that in the week preceding your visit a full complement of staff had been rostered, however due to unexpected and unplanned leave and that some employees were unable to attend the facility due to flooding, we were unable to replace some staff.
UA does attempt to contact all available employees and agencies, though unfortunately they are not always available. Employees are also requested to extend their shifts and as you can appreciate there is a state wide shortage of Aged Care workers. UA’s recruitment team is actively recruiting new employees.
Employees are able to carry their drink bottles in the wings with them and if working in Roland they often leave their drink bottles in the hub where they can access their fluids at any time, for Henley staff we have fluid stations set up for staff.
Whilst we endeavour for all employees to have their breaks and leave on time, if at any time they are not able to have their breaks, they know to see their RN and they will be paid for working through their lunch break.
It is a little disappointing that management did not offer any real solutions in their response.
Our advice moving forward would be to complete internal hazard reports every time you are short-staffed, as it is a safety risk to both you and the residents you are providing care for.
You should also forgo any duties that do not directly relate to resident care if you do not have time and report that short staffing was the reason you did not have time to complete those other duties.
Please also follow up on Chrissie’s advice and chase down the RN to ensure you’re paid every time you work through a meal break.
If you want to discuss the matter of short staffing further or need to talk about any other workplace issues, please call HACSUassist on 1300 880 032.