Around 37% of aged care nurses and carers are planning to leave their jobs in the next one to five years, according to the final results of a national survey conducted by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).
The ANMF National Aged Care COVID-19 Survey 2022, conducted from January 2022 to February 2022, revealed that nurses and care-workers were physically and emotionally burnt-out after working additional, long shifts without adequate breaks and often without access to proper-fitting PPE.
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said aged care workers said they felt ‘unseen, unvalued and cast aside’.
“They’re overworked, stressed and are fast-losing hope and strength. Overwhelmingly, they told us that understaffing was the major reason for the crisis the system faced during the pandemic,” she said.
The survey asked nurses and carers about a range of workplace challenges they faced during the pandemic, including access to vaccinations, RATs and properly-fitted PPE; infection, isolation and quarantine; work hours and leave and their intention to leave their jobs.
Key findings from the survey included:
- 72% received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccination, 27% received two doses;
- 73% reported their employer-provided RAT kits, 12% relied on mass testing sites (no tests from employers or self-purchased) and 5% relied on self-purchased RAT kits;
- 23% described their experience in accessing COVID vaccinations and testing as ‘fair’, 26% as ‘good’ and 25% as ‘very poor’ or ‘poor’;
- 20% reported never, rarely, or only sometimes having enough PPE;
- 48% said working 8-hour shifts, 42% worked long periods without sufficient breaks, 40% worked double shifts and 35% worked unpaid overtime;
- 61% reported their working hours were ‘a bit more’ or ‘a lot more’ than they would like;
- 38% said their employer did not provide leave with pay due to COVID exposure;
- 25% said their employer asked them to cancel/delay planned leave or return to work from leave due to COVID-19;
- 37% planned to leave their job within one to five years and 21% planned to leave within the next 12-months.
Ms Butler said time and time again, Mr Morrison and his Ministers had been warned of the impending crisis in aged care and despite the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, had still done nothing to address the chronic understaffing at the root of so much of the suffering in privately-run nursing homes.
“Most concerning for the ANMF and indeed, the whole community, is the number of aged care staff who reported that they will leave their jobs, within the next one to five years – that’s years upon years of experience just walking out the door. Lack of effective recruitment and retention of nurses and qualified care-workers will only put further strain on a system at breaking point and will lead to more suffering and neglect.
“The survey shows us that the staff remaining in aged care only do so for the love and respect of the people they care for, but their wages and conditions do not justify the risks and pressure they experience every time they go to work. It’s unsustainable.
“When we asked our members how the Morrison Government can fix aged care, they had a simple, common-sense solution: more qualified staff. Surely, the Government has to listen.”
To view the final results of the ANMF National Aged Care COVID-19 Survey, go to https://www.anmf.org.au/documents/reports/ANMFAgedCareCOVID-19Survey2022_FinalReport.pdf