Survey finds better pay is top priority

Understaffed, can’t take meal breaks and paid less pay than their public sector colleagues, aged care nurses in the for-profit sector want better pay and reduced work assignments.

More than one-third of aged care nurses working in the for-profit sector find it impossible to complete their work assignments and say they do not have enough time to give quality care.

This was just one finding of a recent survey of more than 1000 aged care nurses working across 180 different for-profit workplaces, conducted on behalf of the NSWNA.

The survey also found that, despite the enormous loyalty nurses in this sector feel toward their residents and the aged care sector, many have thought about moving across to the public health system for the better pay.

Forty per cent of participants had considered moving in the past 12 months. The main reason was to get public health system pay rates, although many also cited professional development and career reasons. This finding suggests that many are approaching the end of their tether, as they have, till now, been generally loyal to their workplace.

More than half of the survey respondents (53%) had been at their current workplace for more than five years. A further 11% had been there for between four and five years. 22% had been at their current workplace between two and three years.

The study also found that nurses don’t believe they are being adequately rewarded for their level of education.

Ninety-seven per cent of survey respondents had a nurse qualification and almost half held qualifications that related to their aged care work. One in four had a Certificate III or IV but only 16% received additional pay for their qualification.

Not enough nurses

Understaffing and its consequences are a big issue for nurses in this sector.

Twenty-four per cent of for-profit aged care nurses said their workplace was understaffed every day. Another 24% said the workplace was understaffed most days.

Unpaid overtime was a concern for two thirds of participants with a fifth (20%) saying they were normally unable to take meal and tea breaks. Only 14% of RNs said they took their meal breaks every day. More than a third had done two hours or more of unpaid overtime in the previous week. Half worked in workplaces that did not pay overtime.

Respondents showed a high level of awareness of the ‘Because We Care’ campaign and a majority believed it had helped raise the profile of those working in aged care.

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Top 5 priorities of for-profit aged care nurses

  1. A generous pay rise and recognition for qualifications
  2. Increased staffing
  3. A continuing education allowance
  4. An improved skill mix
  5. Improved penalty rates or compensation for unsocial hours.