“Our Facility Claims It Is One Of The Best. But We Are Experiencing Serious Staffing Issues.” – Aged Care Realities

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There seems to be a fine line between fact and fiction when it comes to services offered and the actual reality at some aged care facilities. This nurse wanted to share their personal experiences and why aged care is in crisis.

Ensuring safe nurse-to-resident ratios in aged care will make a huge difference to the lives of many nurses, residents and their families. Join with other nurses on International Nurses Day as we launch our campaign to make Ratios in Aged Care law, Now.

Our facility claims it has the best quality and safety. But we are experiencing serious staffing issues which are affecting the staff emotionally and physically. As a result, our residents do not receive the care they are paying for.

The morning is usually the busiest time of day. Our morning shifts see three staff members caring for 38 residents. Of those 38, 18 residents require the assistance of one staff member, while eight others require two staff members as well as needing transfers with hoists.

During this shift, one carer is expected to shower five residents before breakfast at 8 am. After breakfast they are required to shower another four residents and change six linens. The other two staff members are expected to assist the other residents during this time.

Once 11 am comes, there are only two carers on the floor to look after the 38 residents. Buzzers are constantly going off. If a resident requires a shower with an arjo bath, this takes the two carers off the floor for up to 40 minutes. If there is a fall then one staff member is assisting with showers during this time. When this occurs, there is no supervision or assistance available for other residents.

Between trying to get the showers completed by lunch time, there is also the answering of continuous buzzers, having to clean up incontinence accidents, assisting the registered nurse for falls, and dealing with residents that have dementia.

The standard of care we give our residents is constantly dropping. We care so much about our residents and want to do everything we can for them. But with the rampant understaffing, residents are left to sit in soiled continence aids for hours.

We do this job because we care. We have brought this situation up many times with our clinical coordinator with no effect or solution. It is causing staff to become burnt out physically, mentally and emotionally. On at least two occasions I have seen two colleagues break down into tears because they are frustrated, exhausted and feel that they are not doing their job properly.

I know a few colleagues (myself included) are looking for different jobs because we are sick of coming to this place to be worked to the bone and run off our feet, all to be abused by cranky residents because they had to wait so long.

We also cop abuse and anger from the residents’ family. What they don’t seem to understand is that we care – some times more than the family themselves. It is already killing us that we cannot provide the care they need. Sometimes we don’t even get to take our unpaid lunch break because we are too far behind.

The level of care the residents require is constantly increasing to high care but the staffing has not changed to meet those needs.  This company does not care about its staff or residents – it only cares about the image it portrays and the money it brings in.

If you have an experience you’d like to share, please get in touch here: nurseuncut@nswnma.asn.au. Whether it was something that occurred in a single shift or about your entire career so far, we want to know.

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