Aged care workers have welcomed plans for a major boost to quality care in aged care, and the commitment to fund a substantial increase in aged care workers’ wages.
“Labor’s plan to fix aged care addresses years of neglect experienced by aged care residents and aged care workers alike,” Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director for United Workers Union, said today.
“We have seen through the Royal Commission and beyond that aged care residents have suffered appalling conditions due to understaffing and a lack of quality care.”
The plan to lift quality care in aged care to 215 minutes a day meets the Royal Commission recommendations and boosts care time from estimates of around 180 minutes.
The measure marks a boost to the amount of time aged care workers can spend with their residents.
Labor’s plan to honour the outcome of the Work Value case before the Fair Work Commission – where the claim is for a potential 25 per cent increase for low-paid aged care workers – is a significant boost to aged care wages across the board.
“Recent revelations about hardly palatable food and thousands of reports of understaffing on Aged Care Watch show nothing has changed for aged care residents – in fact things have become much worse,” Ms Smith said.
“Aged care workers, have faced pay so low they report hardly being able to afford to drive their cars to work, pay for power bills or make appointments for essential medical treatments.
“Physically tired, emotionally exhausted aged care workers are likely to feel a wave of relief knowing there is a plan to address chronic understaffing and low wages.
“Scott Morrison’s repeated aged care failures include a complete flub on any meaningful response to the Royal Commission report last year.
“Then 900 aged care residents died this year on Scott Morrison’s watch in an aged care system that descended into chaos.
“Aged care workers have seen vaccine rollout failures, PPE failures, staff working double and triple shifts through the Omicron crisis and a bonus that largely hasn’t even arrived.
“In Tuesday’s Budget aged care workers were offered nothing to address the aged care crisis, with not one cent allocated to increasing workers’ pay.”
Ms Smith said several other aspects of Labor’s plan to fix aged care addressed long-held issues raised by aged care workers, including:
- Improved accountability and transparency to ensure funding goes to care not profit, including a responsibility on providers to ensure they report where there money is actually going.
- A 24/7 nurse on site at facilities to improve resident care, particularly in emergency situations.
- Extra focus on nutrition standards to make sure every resident gets decent food.
“Aged care workers are sick of fancy foyers with nice paintings and fast cars for aged care owners – so transparency is a huge issue for them,” Ms Smith said.
“Of course, aged care workers will need to see this plan materialise, and the Fair Work Commission’s case determining any wage increase is yet to be decided let alone paid.
“But aged care workers will recognise Labor’s plan to fix aged care is a whole lot better than Scott Morrison’s blank sheet of paper.”