Aged care workers battling significant challenges from the COVID-19 outbreak across Australia need more than acknowledgment, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) said today, on Aged Care Employee Day.
While the union said community gratitude was welcomed, the inspiring efforts aged care workers have made during this time of adversity required genuine respect in the form of action so they can continue to care for Australia’s elderly.
“Our members working in aged care are without question the ‘glue’ that is holding the system together. And while we are all struggling to do our best in the context of this global pandemic, it is concerning that once again, aged care workers are reporting significant levels of stress, pressure and a lack of support as the sector grapples to combat COVID-19,” ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said today.
“Publicly thanking aged care nurses and carers is a wonderful gesture but it won’t provide them with full paid pandemic leave to help them protect their residents, it won’t ensure they have been provided with high quality infection control training and it won’t ensure they have enough hours of work to guarantee the income needed to support their families.”
Ms Butler said aged care providers could show genuine respect for their workforce by:
• Ensuring they apply for the aged care worker retention bonus for their employees
• Rather than cutting staff, implement paid pandemic leave for all employees, and
• Guarantee increased staffing and skills required to ensure the sector is well prepared as it can be to combat COVID-19.
“The ANMF has warned successive governments about dangerous understaffing in nursing homes and has been calling for mandated staffing ratios, the urgent need for improved wages and working conditions and increased transparency and accountability around the billions of dollars in taxpayer-funding given to aged care providers, for more than a decade,” Ms Butler said.
“Those responsible for the chronic systemic failures of the aged care sector, from governments and politicians to providers and employers, must be held accountable. Aged care nurses and carers have our respect and our support – that’s why the ANMF will continue to fight and call on politicians and providers to fix this system once and for all.”