How aged care workers felt during the pandemic: new survey

How aged care workers felt during the pandemic: new survey

They are tasked with protecting some of Australia’s most vulnerable but a new national survey has confirmed some of our worst fears about the aged care system.

The alarming new figures come as concern grows about 560 aged care related cases in Victoria.

More than 1000 aged care employees were surveyed by United Workers Union between May and June.

Almost a third of residential aged care workers said they had received no additional training in coronavirus safety measures, or how to correctly use personal protective equipment.

Three in four nursing home workers said they didn’t have enough staff to provide quality care.

In the home care system, one in three workers said they did not have enough supplies of hand sanitiser and gloves.

United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith said the results confirmed workers felt unprepared, untrained and unsafe during the pandemic.

Four in 10 workers felt their residential aged care facility had not communicated its infection plan well.

While a majority also revealed they could not afford to take unpaid leave and were worried their colleagues may have to work if they had mild symptoms.

“The public has a right to be very concerned that workers feel unable to take leave if they are suffering minor symptoms because there is no financial safety net for them,” Ms Smith said.

Victoria and Queensland have offered payments for people in unsecure work who do not have leave entitlements.

Queensland aged care worker Jay Ali said the only training she got about COVID-19 was online.

“Half of the people didn’t even know there was training,” she said.

“We still need that to happen.”

The union has called on the federal government to increase funding, and improve worker’s wages and conditions in its submission to the Aged Care Royal Commission.

“We wake them up, put them in a chair, all day with no visitors, no extra staff and put them back to bed 8 hours later, with staff hardly getting a chance to talk to them,” one worker states in the submission.

The majority of respondents were residential care workers in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, and home care workers in New South Wales.