Twenty-five jobs will be cut and another 60 workers will have their hours reduced at the Uniting Caroona aged care facility in Goonellabah according to the Health Service Union (HSU).
They say that the job cuts will affect kitchen and catering staff, while shift reductions will affect catering, cleaning and physiotherapy staff.
‘The Federal Government has wound back aged care funding by almost $2 billion, putting further pressure on the aged care sector at a time when it is already struggling to cope,’ said HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes.
‘The reality is now starting to bite in places like Goonellabah, Kingscliff, Byron Bay and Bangalow.
‘The Aged Care Royal Commission has exposed a stark reality: the aged care model in Australia is broken,’ he said.
‘Operators are being forced to continually reduce their labour costs by cutting staff and increasing their reliance on casual employment, outsourcing and labour hire.’
State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin said the region’s seniors deserved the best possible aged care and the protection of mandated, safe nurse to patient ratios.
‘If ratios were legislated this terrible situation would be unlikely to happen,’ she said.
Mr Hayes said industry research showed that 41 per cent of aged care facilities across the country have been operated at a loss. In outer regional and remote areas, 58 per cent of aged care facilities operated at a loss.
NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has criticised the decision to slash staff at a Goonellabah nursing home, saying it was affect patient safety.
Mr Secord also slammed the federal government’s failure to properly fund aged care services – resulting in cuts to vital staff number.
‘Make no mistake, these cuts will affect patient care and safety,’ Mr Secord said.
‘The Nationals are failing to support the most vulnerable in our community – the frail and aged. We have a responsibility to protect and care for the aged in our community; they have done so much for us and the community’s responsibility to help protect them,’ Mr Secord said.
HSUs Mr Hayes also said that a leaked memo from Feros Care indicated that they were reducing hours to accommodate the reduction in ACFI (Aged Care Funding Instrument) funding. However, Feros Care has told Echonetdaily that this is not the case.
‘Feros Care has not reduced the number of people employed. In fact we have job advertisements published at present for staff in our residential villages,’ said Feros Care CEO Jennene Buckley.
‘Feros Care like all aged care services, adjusts rosters and hours to match changing care needs of clients, changes in occupancy and the number of people in care.
‘When we change rosters, we consult and communicate with staff.
‘We also have been working with staff to provide a revised “guaranteed minimum hours” to our staff that is higher than initial contracts.
‘This has resulted in strong job sustainability by increasing our permanent part-time workforce, rather than relying on casual staff.’
Ms Buckley said instances where there is a decrease in resident occupancy in some villages had resulted in minimal reductions in shift lengths, but vacant shifts were available at other villages should staff want to work additional hours.