Bucking the cost-cutting trend

Nurses offered full-time contracts

An aged care facility in northern NSW has gone against the WorkChoices-inspired cost-cutting trend by offering full-time contracts to nurses previously on part-time contracts.

The NSW Nurses Association has welcomed the offer by Crowley Care Centre in Ballina.

‘It is a good move for both staff and residents,’ said NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes.

‘It will help to retain staff, offer continuity for both staff and residents, and encourage a happier and more productive facility.’

Management’s offer resulted from an initiative by endorsed enrolled nurse and branch delegate Debbie Tuck, who manages the rosters under the supervision of the Care Centre Manager for a staff of over 75, was finding it hard to get staff to fill all shifts.

‘I approached management to try and reach a solution to benefit everyone,’ said Debbie who has worked at the centre for over 10 years.

She said she expected the task to be a bit of a challenge, but was pleasantly surprised when management acted on her suggestions within the day.

‘I was having a hard time organising the roster so I decided to approach management verbally then and there. By lunchtime there was an ad up for the new full-time positions.’

Debbie said management’s offer was especially significant because it ran counter to the trend set by the federal government’s industrial legislation.

‘WorkChoices equals cutting hours and conditions for aged care and we have seen many local centres and facilities experience lots of cutbacks,’ she said.

‘Crowley has been happy to offer full-time positions because they can see this is going to have a very big impact on nurses’ morale. The full-time positions include 80 hours per fortnight with a rostered ADO once per month.

‘Already this has boosted staff morale and I am a firm believer that when the staff are happy this flows onto our residents.’

With multiple new contracts on offer, Debbie is confident that rostering shortages will no longer be a problem, with a much-improved staff to resident ratio.

‘All shifts will now be fully staffed and we will be able to have more time to chat and interact with the residents,’ she said.

‘This will help with their independence as well.

‘For example, we will have more time to encourage the residents to be involved in their own daily care rather than being rushed and staff doing everything for them. Maintaining such independence helps the residents’ health and wellbeing.’

Debbie has always felt that her workplace was like a ‘big family’ and now the staff feel even more appreciated – ‘Obviously there are strong and open working relationships at Crowley, and management don’t want to lose their staff.’

‘Aged care seems like it is forgotten sometimes, but we really hope this will set a precedent – we see it as a big step in the right direction,’ said Debbie.