- The Guardian
- Issue #1978
After years of Federal Government inaction on aged care, aged care workers are speaking out to expose the daily understaffing and safety risks facing older Australians across the country.
Using an innovative new whistleblower reporting tool, more than 2000 aged care worker reports have revealed the heart-breaking reality of life in aged care facilities, reporting widespread understaffing and how it leaves older Australians unsafe – even the regret of being unable to offer the required care to a dying older Australian.
Thousands more aged care workers are expected to use the Aged Care Watch reporting tool – at agedcarewatch.org.au – since its official launch, bringing the daily hidden failures in the aged care system into the public spotlight.
Families, friends and aged care residents themselves are also able to use Aged Care Watch to report issues as they arise in aged care facilities in real time.
Workers have included harrowing stories about the impact of inadequate staffing in residential aged care including older Australians left in distress, unattended older Australians experiencing serious injuries from falls, and older Australians being left soiled and unattended for extended periods.
Aged care workers are also routinely reporting being unable to complete their work, missing breaks, and suffering injuries and abuse on the job due to understaffing problems.
Reports from across Australia show an aged care sector getting even worse since the Aged Care Royal Commission was called more than two-and-a-half years ago, amid staff cuts and continuing COVID-19 fall out.
The reports also show aged care workers, sick of inaction, delays and federal government bungling, are speaking out to hold their facilities and the federal government accountable.
United Workers Union Aged Care Director, Carolyn Smith, said: “Aged care workers are saying they have had enough, and they are no longer going to keep the lid on the failures in aged care.
“They are exposing the dirty secrets of aged care, and it’s not a pretty picture.
“Aged care workers are telling the public about the terrible conditions they face on a daily basis as they campaign to change aged care – and politicians need to take notice.”
Aged care worker Grace said: “If it happens and you have the app, it’s easier for you to report, whatever it is.”
A family member, Joy, supported the tool as a valuable step towards protecting older Australians.
“They do need a lot of care, and I’d like to see my husband get more care,” she said.