Today as the nation is being asked to honour aged care workers and say ‘thanks for caring’, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says our aged care workers deserve much more, it’s time for genuine respect. This means action, not words.
While community gratitude is welcome, the inspiring efforts of aged care workers across the country, in the face of the significant challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia, need more than acknowledgement, they need to be genuinely rewarded and fully supported to continue to do their best for Australia’s elderly.
“Our members working in aged care are without question the ‘glue’ that is holding the system together. And while we are all struggling to do our best in the context of this global pandemic, it is concerning that once again, aged care workers are reporting significant levels of stress, pressure and a lack of support as the sector grapples to combat COVID-19,” ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said today.
“Publicly thanking aged care nurses and carers is a wonderful gesture but it won’t provide them with full paid pandemic leave to help them protect their residents, it won’t ensure they have been provided with high quality infection control training and it won’t ensure they have enough hours of work to guarantee the income needed to support their families.
“Aged care providers could show genuine respect for their workforce by ensuring they apply for the aged care worker retention bonus for their employees, they could implement paid pandemic leave for all their employees and rather than cutting staff, they could guarantee the increased staffing and skills required to make sure the sector is as well prepared as it can be, to combat COVID-19.
“Right now, we need to do everything possible to combat the pandemic and to protect our elderly, but once we are through this, there must be whole scale and urgent reform to the sector.
“The ANMF has warned successive governments about dangerous understaffing in nursing homes and has been calling for mandated staffing ratios, the urgent need for improved wages and working conditions and increased transparency and accountability around the billions of dollars in taxpayer-funding given to aged care providers, for more than a decade.
“Those responsible for the chronic systemic failures of the aged care sector, from governments and politicians to providers and employers, must be held accountable. Aged care nurses and carers have our respect and our support – that’s why the ANMF will continue to fight and call on politicians and providers to fix this system once and for all.”