Staffing a Major Issue in Aged Care

In a recent Senate estimates hearing the Aged Care Minister, Richard Colbeck shirked responsibility, citing the outbreak in Victoria as the cause of many deaths in aged care facilities during the Covid 19 outbreak. Aged care staff working across multiple sites arose as an issue during Victoria’s outbreak. Infection control was a major problem with staff moving between facilities, making it harder to keep up effective infection control. The reason staff was moving between facilities was the need for them to work at multiple jobs in order to earn a decent living wage.

Once identified as a problem through the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s focus on the outbreak of Covid 19 within aged care homes the federal government provided more workforce funding and an industry program to reduce sharing staff.

The Senate hearing was told that as of September, 4.5 per cent of Victorian aged care staff now work across multiple sites, compared to seven per cent in June.

There have been concerns raised for some time about the number of carers and registered nurses on all shifts in aged care facilities. The Royal Commission and the emergency situation under the pandemic highlighted the deficiencies and the serious outcomes from a lack of staff and a lack of properly trained staff. 

The carers and nurses that work in aged care facilities for the most part do their utmost to provide the level of care the residents need.  These needs vary greatly between residents and at time each resident may need a different level of care, depending on the variations of their health. This creates a complex situation and it can be difficult to manage the correct level of staffing for residents’ needs whilst maintaining a viable operation. 

It is encouraging to see the government making changes to support the aged care workforce. As the population continues to age the need for proper care for those older Australians whose needs are too complex to manage in a home setting will increase and it is imperative that aged care facilities are to the highest standard and able to cope with the growing demand. ,

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