An Open Letter From an Aged Care Worker

An Open Letter From an Aged Care Worker

This is a letter that has been penned by United Voice Aged Care member who will be identified as A. 

I have worked in aged care for 18 years, partly as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) and later as an Enrolled Nurse and in all this time there has always been this battle for funding to manage the care for residents. 

But I must say that these times are the worst I have experienced.

The money that Government has clawed back is severely damaging the level of care aged care providers can provide.

The level of care that residents need when they first come into Aged Care has increased due to the admirable programs in the community that allow people to stay in their own homes for longer.

I believe this is everyone's wish and I applaud the Government for this initiative.

But let’s not forget they did this because it is cheaper to keep people at home. However, the down side is, aged care residents have higher care needs and we have less funding, less staff to provide those needs. I have heard of so many people who have lost shifts, and they are people at the coal face doing the hard work. I personally lost 8 hours, that’s a whole shift.

My personal observation is that there is a higher number of injuries to staff and residents as well as more sick days being taken. Personally the stress has brought me to tears on a few occasions and it takes a lot to stress me.

God knows we get paid a low wage, but it is one of the heaviest workloads with very little appreciation. Let’s face it most people that work in aged care do it for the love of residents. I challenge any politician to come and walk a day in the shoes of an AIN. 

You don’t expect to walk into a room first thing in the morning and be told to [explicit] off.

You don’t expect to go into a resident’s room and find they have been finger painting with their own excretions all over the curtains, walls and bedding. You don’t expect to assist a resident with their medications and they grab the medications off you and throw them across the room. You don’t expect to have to dodge punches or ward off advances.

But these are the type of things we deal with daily.

I have another point of view to the one of the family member of a resident in aged care. My Father is a resident and I use him as my yard stick. When I am dealing with a resident I think to myself would I be satisfied with this for my Dad? Unfortunately I don’t always have the time to achieve that standard. 

My Dad is looked after very well but if he becomes less able to speak up for himself I wonder would it be the same?

My guess is NO. 

We have a formula in aged care, the 20/80 formula.The 20% of residents that demand 80% of your time. So what happens to the other 80% that don’t demand? When we are time poor they are left to their own devices a lot of the time.

More staff and better funding would bring the care levels closer together and thus provide a better life for our wonderful residents. 

I can go on more but I think I have covered the main points. Aged care is a growing industry, but the staff are suffering and the Mums and Dads are not cared for the way we all expect. 

I worry about the future when there will be nobody to look after me or my generation when, god forbid, I have to go into Aged Care. 

But worst of all maybe there won’t be any funding at all. 

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