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there were also a number of particular areas of concern within the facility, including the laundry, where there were out-of-date duty statements, chronic understaffing, injured workers, and cleaning issues.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.