Facility to reclassify beds as low care to avoid employing RNs

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Waratah Village (West Wyalong) management has told Fair Work Australia that it will reclassify its high care beds as low care beds to apparently avoid having to have 24-hour registered nurse coverage at the facility.

What do our Nurse Uncut readers think about this? It seems wrong that there is such a loop hole where beds can be reclassifed at the drop of a hat to suit staffing decisions. (This is despite the fact the residents themselves are not reclassified)

Waratah Village is a major rural aged-care facility in the NSW town of West Wyalong, with 73 beds and currently 16 high-care residents.

Relevant facts from the Fair Work Australia hearing this week are published here.

The NSWNA claims that recent staffing cuts mean Waratah Village no longer has sufficient staff and the right skill mix of staff to ensure residents are cared for properly. This week it sought the assistance of Fair Work Australia (FWA) to address the skill mix problem.

Waratah Village, West Wyalong, has three main areas: a 20-bed nursing home or high care area, a 10-bed dementia area and a 43-bed hostel or low care area.

Up until 31 January this year, it was owned and operated by the Bland Shire Council and had 17 registered and enrolled nurses in its employ, with at least one registered nurse rostered on every shift. On 1 February 2012, the Royal Freemasons Benevolent Institution took over ownership and control of Waratah Village and started reducing staffing levels, claiming inadequate Commonwealth funding as the reason. In fact, with the transfer to Royal Freemasons, nine registered nurses were made redundant and a large number of enrolled nurses (about six) and personal care assistants (PCAs) resigned.

“With the stroke of a pen you can just reclassify beds to get around your obligations to employ suitably qualified staff. This is despite the fact the residents themselves are not reclassified. How can a loophole like that be able to exist?” NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes said.

There are now only two registered nurses, who are both engaged in a managerial capacity – one full-time general manager and one part-time care manager – and only rostered between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

All remaining enrolled nurses and PCAs were reclassified as care service employees (CSEs), although employees who were formerly employed as enrolled nurses continue to be paid as such.

Mr Holmes said the reclassifying of these beds also raises questions about the future availability of high-care beds in West Wyalong.

What do you think about this case? Does it seem right to you?

Image credit: NSWNA

2 COMMENTS

  1. “Does it seem right … ?”
    What would the ordinary reasonable person think? Of course it’s not right …
    But then the providers of Residential Aged Care Services are not well known for being ‘reasonable people’.

    I have NEVER been employed by a ‘good’ RACF. They are ALL about making money, even the so-called ‘Not For Profit’ groups.

    Their favourite trick in RACFs, is to remove the doorway between High Care and Low Care. This allows for the legal loop-hole of creating the one large High Care facility – where they only need the one RN on duty, regardless of how many residents their are all up. Totals of 150 are not uncommon.

    One of the main issues, is that while management call a section of their facility ‘Low care’, they often accomodate High Care residents there, and the RN is required to move from one location to the other, in order to meet needs as they occur. This can mean walking the equivelant of up to several kilometres on a ten hour night shift.

    Don’t be conned by the Not-For-Profit group ….

    My former employer ( yes, I’ve changed jobs again ! ) recently brought a $45 million block of land to build another facility. Within a year, they also have approval to build a complete facility within walking distance of a major CBD. That project is worth millions and millions, as they later intend to build up to 15 floors of independant living units ONTOP of the nursing home. Just imagine … the top floors will sell for a million dollars each or more !! Not bad for a NOT FOR PROFIT group !!!

    How do they do it ??? The MILLIONS that flow into their hands from our out-dated system of giving away Public funds to anyone who says they will look after our aging population. Do don’t need to CARE … just have the paperwork that says you do !!!

  2. I know what you mean Gordo, I did a couple of shifts in aged care and have had problems with my hip ever since. I got out before they caused some serious damage making me run back and forth between two huge wards all day.

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