A delegation of ANMF and United Workers Union officials and members working in private aged care converged on the nation’s capital calling for private nursing home staffing ratios to be included in the May Federal Budget.
The report that emerged from the two-year royal commission into aged care said: staffing ratios should be introduced to ensure that there are sufficient nursing and other care staff present at all times in residential aged care.
Among the 25-strong delegation were ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler and three Victorian members – a registered nurse and two personal care workers.
The delegation sought urgent meetings with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, advisors for Health Minister Greg Hunt, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, the Labor caucus, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, and Shadows Mark Butler, Clare O’Neill and Ged Kearney, the Greens and key crossbenchers.
Among the MPs who met with the delegation were Labor Shadow Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Shadow Ministers Mark Butler, Clare O’Neil and Ged Kearney; Greens Leader Adam Bandt and Greens Aged Care Spokesperson Rachel Siewert; and key crossbenchers Andrew Wilkie and Helen Haines.
At a media conference on 16 March in Canberra, ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the Prime Minister had refused to meet with the group.
Ms Butler said despite the urgency of aged care reform, the Federal Government had done nothing of consequence since the royal commission’s report was released on 1 March.
‘What’s needed more than anything are the time and skills to care. The royal commission clearly said there are many ingredients needed to fix the crisis in aged care but nothing will be achieved until we get the workforce right, the staffing right and that those staff are provided with enough time to care.’
Victorian ANMF member, personal care worker Clarissa* said private aged care workers were feeling let down by the Federal Government because of under-staffing.
‘Being a care worker, we like to do our best but you can’t do that because of the funding and being understaffed all the time,’ she told the Canberra media conference.
‘My heart is broken because of the elderly and vulnerable that we need to look after. I’m going home with tears for them.’
Clarissa said the mental health of aged care workers was becoming a huge issue because of workload-related exhaustion.
ANMF (Vic Branch) member Rebecca who has worked in aged care as a personal care worker and now registered nurse/facility manager for 25 years, told the media she had witnessed the demoralisation of the workforce as they strived to give the care people need without having enough time.
‘We fight every day for our people that we look after and we get exhausted by the end of the day,’ she said.
‘We need ratios to make sure that our staff aren’t exhausted, demoralised and leaving, and can give the care that the elderly living in private nursing homes deserve.’
*We have used our members’ first names only to protect their employment.