Aged care experiencing chronic understaffing, excessive workloads

Wednesday, 12 January, 2022

Aged care experiencing chronic understaffing, excessive workloads

Australian aged-care facilities are experiencing an unprecedented crisis with chronic understaffing, excessive workloads and extended shifts, according to a survey of more than 1000 workers.

A survey of Health Services Union (HSU) members has found: 82% believe their facility was unprepared for the current Omicron ‘let it rip’ approach; 90% are experiencing understaffing; 84% are experiencing excessive workloads; 36% are working in facilities that have implemented 12-hour shifts.

Staff also reported working 16-hour shifts, working seven days consecutively, care staff without food safety qualifications working in kitchens, a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers and a shortage of rapid antigen tests (RATs).

Further, 39% of members have had to isolate due to exposure and only 16% of those had access to paid isolation leave.

HSU National President Gerard Hayes said these issues could have been avoided, had the government prepared the sector for the current COVID outbreak.

“Only just over a third of members surveyed have received their booster shot, despite working overtime in high-risk settings.

“There are active outbreaks in almost 500 aged-care facilities across the country. Yet workers can’t access RATs, they can’t access PPE. They are on the frontline with very little protection.

“Not only are staff at risk but vulnerable residents are at a heightened risk of severe disease or death.

“Aged-care workers are exhausted and frustrated and residents are terrified. The federal government needs to take action today,” Hayes said.

Image credit: © Studio

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