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May 15, 2021

Aged care concerns

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The vast majority of staff at Feros Care’s Bangalow Village nursing home say they have had to neglect the needs of residents due to the pressures of understaffing, a union survey shows.

But the home’s management denies this, saying staffing levels are maintained at a level equal to and higher than the Australian industry benchmark.

The Health Services Union survey of 36 staff at the home found that understaffing had reached critical levels.

Unsafe staffing levels

Eighty-five per cent of respondents reported feeling that they had neglected the needs of residents in the past month as a result of understaffing issues.

A further 97 per cent said that shifts were regularly being left unfilled at the facility because there simply were not enough staff available to fill them.

Every one of those interviewed said that either they or a colleague had raised workload issues with their managers, and that they had missed a scheduled break in the past week due to staff shortages. 

Just over a third of the respondents said they felt the staffing level was unsafe and seven people said they had suffered an injury as a direct result of understaffing.

HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said the Union had raised a number of issues around understaffing a Bangalow Village with Feros Care management, but no response had been forthcoming.

‘It is extremely disappointing that Feros Care management have ignored issues around understaffing at Bangalow Village,’ Mr Hayes said.

‘The Feros Care Enterprise Agreement sets out a clear process for resolving issues around workload management, but it appears that this process has not been followed.

‘Ultimately, workload issues detract from the quality of care that residents receive. Feros Care needs to get on top of the staffing situation at Bangalow Village urgently.’

In a letter to its members, Mr Hayes said there were also a number of particular areas of concern within the facility, including the laundry, where there were out-of-date duty statements, chronic understaffing, injured workers, and cleaning issues.

In the letter Mr Hayes said that HSU was planning to meet with the management of the home in the next few weeks.

He also said that if the union was not able to reach some agreement with management on staffing at Bangalow, it would have no hesitation in sharing these results with SafeWork and asking for inspectors to get involved.

Feros: no crisis

However, Feros Care said there was no crisis of understaffing at Feros Care Bangalow and that it’s own recent staff surveys found that the vast majority were satisfied with current staffing levels.

‘The staff rostering policy requires for all shifts to be filled at all times, and the duty RN calls in support staff to fill in any gaps when they arise,’ a spokesperson for the not-for-profit said.

‘Should a staff member be ill or cannot come in, for whatever reason, Feros Village engages Care Agency staff to supplement the team.

‘Feros Villages’ Nurse Call system on average takes less than three minutes from the time a resident activates the nurse call button to a staff member in attendance.

‘For example our current day shift staff to resident ratio is 4:1 and afternoon shifts at 5:1, which is well within the industry average.

‘It takes a special person to work in aged care, and we are proud of our Feros staff, who are actively involved in working groups to ensure the best running of the facility.

‘Feros Care Village residents are cared for with compassion, professionalism and the highest quality care at all times. We are a multi-award winning aged care provider and are proud of our reputation in the region.’

The spokesperson said Feros welcomed the call for more federal funding to increase the number of workers in aged care centres.

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  1. My brother was in this … place with Motor Neurone, aged 63, he ended up with sepsis and died within a few months, at Tweed Hospital. The poor old man sharing his very small room was not treated well either, dragged across the bed to change him. My niece was so disgusted at their treatment she did a Cert 3 and wanted to go in to nursing homes to check on vulnerable people.

    This … place …, I call it ‘Feral’. I just hope they get treated the same as they treated my brother when it’s their turn to be at the mercy of others.

  2. It isn’t just Feros that is in crisis. I had my mother in respite at another facility and it was all talk and marketing without much of what they promised being realised. She was neglected there and, at one stage, they ‘forgot “to feed her.
    I do, however, have current issues with Feros with regards to her home care package.

  3. In reference to the write up on Feros Care Bangalow.
    From what I know & have heard of the way this facility is run, is of a very poor standard. Not for the lack of wonderful nurses & RN’s working so hard to give their residents as much professional care as they possibally can whilst working under extreme circumstances of critical staff shortages. These nurses are run off there feet trying to do all of which is needed for the well-being & best interest of all the residents. A ratio of 4 to 1 is absolute bull crap or should I say out right lies. I believe the ratio is way worse then management is letting on. Feros Care Bangalow , once a well respected & one of the best in the area. No longer, is known for this. Which is really sad , considering the efforts & the dreams of GEORGE FEROS whom solely raised money so many years ago. His dream home for the elderly , a home of equality for all aged people that needed somewhere to be looked after with love, proper medical needs & a caring environment through out their older age. Not to mention a non profitable organisation. Seems there are more Chief than Indians. So many administration employees , perhaps in newly created positions, driving around in their flash new cars, dollars being spent on the best foods & accommodation for company meetings. Need I say same old scenario. Greed & more of the best for the ones at the top of the ladder & Less for those at the bottom . The vulnerable older persons & The dedicated nurses trying to do the best they can. No wonder the nurse are prone to injury, fatigue & burn out. Which in turn unfortunately falls onto the care of older people whom very much deserve to be cared for with respect & dignity. Shame on Feros Care for failing the standards of care for the almighty dollar. I am sure GEORGE FEROS ( God Bless his Soul ) would be absolutely disgusted in WHAT HIS DREAM Aged Care Facility has become. Nothing but a money making business at the expense of the elderly, & the Good hard working Nurses continually battling on & giving of their own time to provide the care that these elderly people are entitled to. God Bless, These special Nurses at the bottom of the ladder…

  4. I previously worked at the Bangalow and Byron Bay facilities and I know 100% that they are short staffed on the floor, especially in the high care Bangalow facility. The amazing care staff do more than what is required for the residents, and all on minimum wages. Management will always deny this! I know for a fact that for the past 2 weeks upper management has approved additional hours and shifts for the junior managers, reception, RN’s and team leaders to ensure all paperwork etc is up to date – they do have accreditation audits and this ensures they are covering there behinds. The accreditation is not much better. I am aware of a family member writing a letter of complaint to the accreditation board. The accreditation board then forwarded the letter to straight back to the manager of Feros Bangalow. No action was taken by the Accreditation board.

    Reducing staffing numbers to the bare minimum around the public holidays to avoid staff sick days! whilst the NOT FOR PROFIT organisation managers drive around in company Lexus and Jeep vehicles. Upper managers have stated in many occasions that there’s more money in community care and that’s where the NOT FOR PROFIT Feros Care are heading!

    The turnover of staff at Feros is extreme. Just ask one of what I guess would be the previous 1500 staff members or the long term staff that have since moved facilities from previously working in high care Bangalow … and the Nepotism.

    Our older generation deserve better! George Feros would be disgusted….


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