Anon Carer: I am a personal carer at an aged care facility. I need my job, I am a passionate carer, but there needs to be changes.

These are people we are dealing with – not a factory job! With all the funding cuts and the ‘ageing in place’ ethos, we cannot do what is required of us.

  • Training/QualificationsI believe carers need better training, not a slap-stick course and receive a certificate to care after only five weeks.

    Aged Care Reform Team: Some students spend almost as long on unpaid work placements (generally 120 hours) as they do studying. This is not even remotely adequate to learn all of the basic concepts care workers need to understand to be able to provide quality care to individuals.

    More traineeships where people can learn on the job within organisations, so that the specific qualifications they need to secure ongoing employment are provided.

    ARCT: Not all training courses are equal, and many required skills are still considered “elective” units eg: dementia awareness training

    Better placements for students with on site mentors who are qualified to train and support them.

    ACRT: Students are usually supervised by care workers who don’t have enough time to do their own work. These are students who often have absolutely no experience in care work, or on occasion nursing students who really should be mentored by nurses who better understand the things they need to gain out of their placements.

    It can be extremely challenging and stressful for everyone – residents are not always asked if they consent to students being present during care, and can react badly to unskilled people attempting to assist them.

    Carers are not paid any extra money to arrange their shifts in order to be able to safely supervise students, observe them practising and write their reports for them. This usually means a lot of unpaid over time.

    Students may be confronted by behaviours and situations they have not experienced before, and as unfamiliar faces can be targets for aggression or even violence.

    Facilitators of these courses may not even visit students on placement to provide support.

  • Staff to resident ratio.There needs to be a better understanding of person-centred care and the demands that it places on staff when there is not enough hands to be flexible and provide care in the way residents choose (and at times they choose).

    ACRT: Many residents come to residential care with experiences (and expectations) of community care where it is within their own home and they negotiate with their carers to meet their needs in a mutually satisfactory routine. They are used to one to one care with plenty of time allocated for their specific needs.

    This is impossible in residential care (which incidentally is also supposed to be a residents home) with no minimum care hours allocated per person – some residents need many more hours of care than others but no extra staff are provided to meet the varied needs of multiple residents.

    “Ageing in place” does not work…

    ACRT: …Without staff ratios and the correct skill mix and training to cater for varying levels of complex care needs. It is important to let low care residents maintain whatever ability they have to care for themselves for as long as possible, while still being supervised and regularly assessed for changing needs.

    It is equally important that residents who require full assistance are not disadvantaged eg: being left alone in bed to eat breakfast because there is not enough free staff available to use a lifter to put them in a chair and transport them to the dining room, or always having to wait till last to get up out of bed, or being put back to bed early while shifts overlap and there are extra staff on the floor.

    We have low care residents demanding to be showered first when we have people with behaviour issues that require them to be assisted first or they will try to get dressed or showered without help. Our low care residents don’t understand this – they just want to get up and start their day – which is understandable. There should be more staff available to cater to this.

    People that are extreme fall risks are not receiving immediate responses as required either, because once you start providing care to one resident, you cannot leave them unsupervised to attend to another resident.

    Some rooms are NOT adequate for high care needs.

    ARCT: eg: not enough space to use a mobile lifter or beds pushed against walls which makes it hard to provide 2-person care without moving the bed each time, carpeted floors which make pushing wheelchairs or princess chairs with someone in them really difficult and dangerous, doorways that are too small for some residents electric chairs, no place to store and charge gophers or large electric chairs, shared rooms with limited privacy (curtains down the middle) and communal bathrooms.

    Where I work, which is a not for profit facility…it’s still ALL about the costs, and keeping them down.

    ACRT: The Aged Care Funding Instrument paperwork is an absolute nightmare – miss properly completing a day here and there and a residents funding can be cut for an entire month – or longer. The facility then has to fully bear the costs of providing their incontinence aids or similar for that period of time while funding is reapplied for.

    Unskilled care workers are routinely not adequately trained to understand the importance of the paperwork they are required to fill out each shift, and many will just “tick and flick” at the very end of their shift – many more ignore it completely. They could inadvertently be denying residents the very funding that they need to provide increased levels of care.

    We are melting down, we need better staffing. Not staff cutting corners. The bruises are preventable with better training, skin tears are preventable with better training, falls are preventable with more staff and better training, pressure sores are preventable with more staff.

    We sign off on repositioning residents who are bed bound, but are often not really doing it because we do NOT have the time.
    Residents are being told to pee in pads (a sackable offence) because of lack of staffing – we don’t have time to take them to the toilet, leaving other residents unattended.

    Management want us to document everything to prove what is happening (NOT HAPPENING) but they will not extend our shifts to be able to do the documentation.

    We…most of us…love our jobs, but we go home distressed and extremely drained.

* I would like to remain anonymous, I do need my job. I’d hate to leave the residents that trust and depend on me.

ACRT: Thank you for speaking out – these are common themes in many reports from staff that we are sent, or that we have read elsewhere. We hope to use personal stories like yours to raise awareness and continue to campaign for urgent reform. You are not alone in your frustrations.

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