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.
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