After years of Federal Government inaction on aged care, aged care workers are speaking out to expose the daily understaffing and safety risks facing older Australians across the country.
Using an innovative new whistleblower reporting tool, more than 2000 aged care worker reports have revealed the heart-breaking reality of life in aged care facilities, reporting widespread understaffing and how it leaves older Australians unsafe – even the regret of being unable to offer the required care to a dying older Australian.
Thousands more aged care workers are expected to use the Aged Care Watch reporting tool – at www.agedcarewatch.org.au – after its official launch today, bringing the daily hidden failures in the aged care system into the public spotlight.
Families, friends and aged care residents themselves are also able to use Aged Care Watch to report issues as they arise in aged care facilities in real time.
Workers have included harrowing stories about the impact of inadequate staffing in residential aged care including older Australians left in distress, unattended older Australians experiencing serious injuries from falls and older Australians being left soiled and unattended for extended periods.
Aged care workers are also routinely reporting being unable to complete their work, missing breaks, and suffering injuries and abuse on the job due to understaffing problems.
Reports from across Australia show an aged care sector getting even worse since the Aged Care Royal Commission was called more than two-and-a-half years ago, amid staff cuts and continuing Covid-19 fall out.
The reports also show aged care workers, sick of inaction, delays and Federal Government bungling, are speaking out to hold their facilities and the Federal Government accountable.
United Workers Union Aged Care Director, Carolyn Smith, said: “Aged care workers are saying they have had enough, and they are no longer going to keep the lid on the failures in aged care.
“They are exposing the dirty secrets of aged care, and it’s not a pretty picture.
“Aged care workers are telling the public about the terrible conditions they face on a daily basis as they campaign to change aged care – and politicians need to take notice.”
Aged care worker Grace said: “If it happens and you have the app, it’s easier for you to report, whatever it is.”
A family member, Joy, supported the tool as a valuable step towards protecting older Australians.
“They do need a lot of care, and I’d like to see my husband get more care,” she said.
Aged Care Watch allows workers to report incidents they experience in facilities across Australia.
Using a simple online form, they report the nature of the incident.
The report is then recorded and, after vetting, made publicly available on a map, giving details of the facility, the location and brief details of the issue.
Aged Care Watch has been established in Australia by United Workers Union.
Additional video resources:
Aged care worker Grace speaks about Aged Care Watch: https://www.facebook.com/timetochangeagedcareau/videos/340694694467526
Aged care worker first-hand account (reenactment): https://www.facebook.com/timetochangeagedcareau/videos/224434679693238
Aged care workers speak out about the benefits of Aged Care Watch: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=561556398201546
Responses from workers:
“In my section there is a resident who falls multiple times with a fracture in his neck and when his sensor goes off we are told to run, needs a 1 on 1 but management will not pay for a staff member. The resident had five falls last night and displays aggressive behaviour late in the evening. I am on my own for 2 hours attending to call bells and assisting residents to bed and trying to do my documentation and cleaning up the kitchen.”
Personal Care worker, SA
“Hurt my back rushing to get residents dressed because we had 2 staff to 30 residents. Had 2 days off work unreported for fear of workplace culture.”
Personal Care Assistant, VIC
“This was night duty last night … one short and one agency … One patient had a serious fall and was sent to hospital.”
Personal Care Worker, SA
“Resident fell in bathroom … I had to stay with her until SAAS came … about an hour (later) … Large skin tear on arm requiring suture. Felt tearful all shift as (I) struggle to meet needs of residents.”
Personal Care Worker, SA
“Due to insufficient staffing unable to provide quality care. Residents left in a saturated bed for more than a day at a time. Ongoing understaffing is becoming the biggest problem. I have been working numerous shift on my own for five to six hours before I get staff coming in to help, and my shift finishes at 1400hrs.”
Care assistant, Qld
“Two carers short on the shift. Two residents fell, one resident broke her hip.”
Aged care worker, WA
“Could not provide adequate care to a dying resident.”
Aged care worker, SA
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