Research paints a diabolical portrait of aged care

Further research commissioned by the NSWNA involving 1,062 RNs and ENs in aged care reveals a very difficult work environment, outrageous workloads and widespread pessimism about the sector among nurses.

Two-thirds reported doing regular un-paid overtime and 81.6% reported an in-crease in workload over the previous 12 months.

Over 50% reported a decrease in job satisfaction over the previous 12 months. Only 51.9% reported a definite intention to remain in aged care nursing over the next five years. Of those intending to leave, 90.2% were aged 40 years and older.

Some respondents were expected to shoulder unimaginable responsibilities.

A number of RNs, ENs and EENs were responsible for 100 or more residents each. On the morning shift, there were 14 (3.1%) nurses who reported that they had responsibility for 100 residents or more; on the afternoon shift there were 9 (2.1%) and on the night shift there were 15 (4.6%).

A significant number questioned whether they would still be working in the sector in five years’ time.

Approximately 30% were unsure, and another 16% indicated an intention to leave aged care nursing within the next five years. Incredibly, aged care nursing is at risk of losing up to 50% of its workforce within the next five years.

Many aged care nurses perceived the new industrial regulations as a threat to their current conditions and award and had clear messages for their union about what they wanted done.

‘Protect workers in the aged care sector from the Howard government‘s new IR changes and protect their conditions.’ said one.
‘Resist the introduction of the new IR legislation with every means at your disposal,’ said another.

Howard’s low-wage future for aged care

Current NSW nurse pay rates (Base weekly rates as at 01.07.07)

CLASSIFICATION
PUBLIC HOSPITALS
PRIVATE HOSPITALS
(now under WorkChoices)
AGED CARE
(federally funded and also now under WorkChoices)

Assistant in Nursing, 4th year
$692.20
$668.90
$638.78

Enrolled Nurse, 5th year
$842.50
$814.00
$766.08

Registered Nurse, 8th year
$1,232.60
$1,191.00
$1,110.36

What the NSWNA wants in aged care

This federal election, nurses want a commitment from all political parties that they will improve the level of care delivered to elderly Australians and to stop the exodus of nurses from the aged care sector. The NSWNA is calling for:

  • the national licensing of all direct care staff;
  • extra funding to achieve and maintain wage parity for nurses working in aged care with their colleagues in other sectors; and
  • minimum nursing staff levels and an appropriate skill mix of carers and enrolled and registered nurses throughout the aged and community care workforce.