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Aged care workers have expressed a huge vote of no-confidence in the ability of aged care providers to successfully implement sweeping aged care reforms.

The results of a major United Workers Union survey of more than 1300 aged care workers have been submitted to a Senate committee examining aged care reforms, including a lift in care time from 180 minutes to 200 minutes.

The survey found:

–                        Only six per cent of aged care workers said they felt they could trust a system where providers self-reported care hours.

–                        96 per cent of aged care workers said workers should have a role in monitoring care time.

–                        Only five per cent of workers were confident that residents were currently receiving the commonly-accepted benchmark of about 180 minutes of care time a day.

–                        A large majority of aged care workers saw it as likely or very likely that their providers would attempt to game the counting of increased care hours:

  • 93 per cent are either concerned their providers would lie about care hours to obtain funding (70 per cent) or were not sure their provider would be honest (23 per cent).
  • Almost 80 per cent think it’s likely or very likely that providers will employ more carers but add other non-care time tasks to their workload (e.g., cleaning or food service);
  • 75 per cent are concerned that providers will replace unfilled shifts with shorter shifts but not report the drop-in care hours; and
  • 74 per cent think it’s likely or very likely that providers will roster staff but not report when those staff don’t attend work, so it looks like they are fully staffed.


The Federal Government has committed to increasing care hours to 200 minutes a day for each aged care resident by October 2023, in line with Royal Commission recommendations.

“We have seen a broken aged care system and now we are on the path to substantial reforms,” United Workers Union Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said today.

“However workers’ trust in providers to successfully adopt these reforms is shockingly low.

“This is no surprise – even this survey shows about one in five aged care workers did not receive the first $400 bonus payment in March and almost one third said they had not received the second bonus payment.

“The survey also has workers reporting first-grade rorting by providers ahead of visits by the aged care safety regulator – extra staff being brought in, furniture being moved from facility to facility, the whole box and dice.

“When aged care workers’ trust in the system is repeatedly and regularly broken, it is little wonder aged care workers have no trust in their providers implementing once-in-a-lifetime reforms.”

Ms Smith said as well as aged care workers having a role in monitoring care time, workers were eloquent about features that would give them greater confidence in the reforms:

  • 70 per cent said providers should face funding losses if they were purposefully understaffed.
  • Almost 60 per cent of workers believe care time mandates are more likely to be met by providers if workers can hold them accountable.
  • Only 10 per cent of workers said the current aged care safety regulator’s audit system would provide enough oversight to ensure accurate reporting of care hours.

“Aged care workers are nearly unanimous on this: light-touch regulation has failed to put funding in the right places, and a tougher approach is needed,” Ms Smith said.

“They also see considerable value in transparent, responsive care time monitoring that allows aged care workers – the real guardians of the aged care system – to hold aged care providers to account when the system isn’t working.”