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More than 6500 individual reports about understaffing and unsafe conditions facing aged care residents will be handed to the aged care safety regulator today (EDS: Wednesday).

Reports from a United Workers Union whistleblower web site called Aged Care Watch have identified serious impacts on aged care resident safety as workers document unfilled shifts and understaffing.

Literally thousands of reports of aged care residents suffering because there are not enough staff to look after them will be sent to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

In findings from Aged Care Watch:

  • 2300 reports name “distressed resident” as a result of a lack of care.
  • 1900 reports name “resident left soiled for an extended period” as a result of a lack of care.
  • 600 reports name “resident injury” as a result of a lack of care.
  • 2900 reports name “stressed staff member” as a result of unfilled shifts or understaffing.

“The reports identify 2700 cases of understaffing, almost 10,000 unfilled shifts and more than 800 personal accounts of incidents due to a lack of care time for residents – and we know this is the tip of the iceberg,” Carolyn Smith, United Workers Union Aged Care Director, said today.

“These reports come from every state of Australia and show the inside story of the aged care crisis that continues to impact the care of aged care residents.

“It’s a sad fact that even before Covid aged care was a shambles and now it’s even worse.

“The accounts from inside aged care facilities are horrifying.

“Aged care workers report incontinence pads have not been changed for 16 hours, wounds are not able to be treated, and weight loss by residents because they are not being helped with their food – and that is just one report.

“We are handing these over to the regulator to examine both the outright issues of neglect that have been exposed, but to consider the system-wide failure these reports demonstrate.

“These first-hand accounts from aged care workers provide extensive further evidence of the massive failure of the Federal Government in residential aged care.

“The failures by the Federal Government also show why thousands of aged care workers feel they have no option but to go on strike and hold their employers accountable.

“Aged care workers are sick of seeing aged care residents suffering, and they are taking strike action to fix aged care.”

Names and identifying details of 6200 worker reports, 300 family member reports and 40 resident reports will be redacted in keeping with Aged Care Watch’s commitment to complaints being made anonymously. Facility names will be disclosed.

Aged care worker, WA:

I work in hospitality and I spend a large percentage of my shift running from the dining hall/kitchen to answer cries for help from the residents. There might be two to three [carers] on one wing for up to 48 residents. They can’t leave someone in a bath or on a toilet while they go to attend to someone else. I have found residents on the floor and no one about to come help them.

Aged care worker, Queensland:

Residents are being neglected because [facility name redacted] is so short staffed.  Staff are so stressed and are not coping and are not being able to complete their work. There is a lot more residents’ injuries, as in falls, since we have been short staffed.

Aged care worker, Victoria:

Understaffed to the max. Residents often given below standard quality meals due to “budget”. PCAs are often expected to work in the kitchen with NO training or qualification. Nurses expected to do paperwork as priority over providing care to residents. Many issues with wound care not being attended to correctly.  Lifestyle activities are very bland due to being given a poor budget. Everything is about budget. The residents and staff deserve so much better.

Aged care worker, South Australia:

[I am suffering] burnout, stress and anxiety due to uncertainty of staffing. Many hospitality shifts are unfilled, training is absolutely minimal for new staff, agency is regularly unavailable. My colleague recently was hurt due to working above and beyond an acceptable work load to compensate. My mental health has suffered terribly and I’m now at breaking point. I have an inbox full of requests to fill shifts. The correct food is often missing or unavailable leaving us to seek alternatives at the last minute. Residents often don’t get what they request. Care staff vent frustration and anger on kitchen staff for not preparing what should have been organised on a different shift. Stock levels are often falling short. Dietary requirements are often missed. Standards are slipping with cleaning yet it seems we always get notification of audits and it’s fixed up before each inspection.

Aged care worker, NSW:

Chronic understaffing and huge turnover of staff especially in management leave the residents suffering with soiled continence aids for over 16 hours, wounds not attended to, weight loss due staff not having the time to assist in feeding the many residents that require this assistance.  Overall staff morale is very low, care staff work incredibly hard trying to do the job of multiple workers and we are burnt out, underpaid and under appreciated.  The residents pay a fortune to come to [facility name redacted] and we can barely meet their basic needs.

Family member, Tasmania:

Family member has lost weight, no help with eating, showering (always smells) – I shower them when I visit. Boredom, left to sit in a chair in their room. Asked a carer to help me move family member into the bed, told she was the only one on the floor at that time (37 patients!!!).


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