The myHomecare Group was featured in Nine.coms article ‘Verbally abused aged care workers call for mental health helpline ahead of the federal election.’
In this article, the CEO of the myHomecare Group touches on how more should be done to support aged care workers.
For a summary of the article read on.
The COVID-19 pandemic may be over for some Australians, but the virus continues to plague the aged care sector.
The aged care industry is strained due to staff shortages, poor pay conditions, and heavy workloads.
Megan Mainwaring, a case manager at the myHomecare Group who has worked in aged care for the past eight years, has said the mental toll is becoming “unbearable” for herself and her workers.
“It’s not getting any better even though the pandemic is calming down, in-home care seems more stressful,” Mainwaring said.
Staff shortages have impacted home care providers as COVID-19 causes extensive furloughing.
Older Australians are frustrated with staff shortages, which cause delays in their daily care.
“The clients are frustrated because they don’t get to go out and their families aren’t coming around.”
Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, more people are turning to home care, but there are fewer staff members available.
“We just don’t have enough staff for all of the Home Care Packages.”
Stuart Miller spoke to 9News after meeting with the son of a client who complained about staff delays.
“He was very calm and rational about it but basically saying it’s not good enough,” Miller said.
“I had to be really honest with him and say we don’t have the staff at the moment.”
Miller said ongoing precautions around COVID-19 are adding to staffing pressures which trickle down to prioritising clients.
“The situation with staff turnover with COVID-19 isolation means we have to triage who gets the services,” Miller said.
“We’re very conservative and we have to protect these people, we can’t afford to send a staff member in there with a sniffle.”
Calls for an aged care mental health support helpline.
The added stress of staff shortages, frustrated clients, and ongoing safety concerns of COVID-19 has sparked calls for the federal government to introduce mental health support for workers as well as incentives to grow the workforce.
Miller is campaigning in the lead-up to the federal election for psychological support services to be implemented.
“We would like to see education and supporting mechanisms around mental health, and by that, I mean psychological counselling,” he said.
“A hotline, which understands specifically home care struggles because we have some specific requirements.
“It just needs to understand the struggles our staff are going through.”
Miller also called for resilience training to help staff understand how to deal with confrontation and verbal abuse.
“When Megan spoke about being abused, it happens every single day, and it’s hard to get abused and want to come back the next day,” he said.
“So the government needs to reach into providers and say we’ll offer these free services to build into your team meetings, care manager meetings, field meetings, so we can give you some of the tips and tools for your staff to get through these issues,” he said.
Pressure to increase the pay of aged care workers.
Inadequate pay is also contributing to staff turnover, another issue Miller wants the government to address.
“People doing very similar work in the disability sector are getting paid 15% more,” he said.
With the rising cost of living and petrol prices, Miller said better pay for home care workers is essential.
One thing his organisation has implemented is supplying fueled cars so that Support Workers can get to work.
Mainwaring said the low pay “makes no sense when you’re looking after people’s lives” and called for pay increases to attract more people to the industry.
The call for better conditions is rising across the country among aged care workers.
There is also a case before the Fair Work Commission currently to increase aged care workers’ pay by 25 per cent.
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