industry & reform
that has on work-life balance . Everybody is just so caught up in that COVID bubble , and it ’ s really hard to get out of that at the moment . For lot of managers most of their dealings on a daily basis now are probably issues around COVID .
The issue is how do we get away from that and start bringing back that focus on the role that we have , on the great parts of the role , the reasons why we get up every day and do our job . We need to start getting our confidence back .
The government offered a one-off $ 800 payment for staff . What were their thoughts on this and do you think this will help to retain workers ? I think staff would love the $ 800 , to be honest . Who wouldn ’ t ? I know I wouldn ’ t mind it . But unfortunately that ’ s not the answer , and I don ’ t think it ’ ll keep staff long term . It might keep somebody until they get the $ 800 maybe , but it ’ s obviously a payment for doing amazing things over the last couple of years , and we get that , but the fact is that ’ s not going to be the thing that keeps them wanting to be part of the aged care system .
It ’ s about changing their perception and changing the culture , while reframing the way they look at their role and try to get them to understand that the job is still there . All the wonderful things that we love about aged care have not gone anywhere . At the moment it ’ s just slightly clouded with COVID and other issues that are taking precedence , but there are still amazing parts of our role that exist , and I think we need to try and recapture that and remember that ’ s why we do what we do , and not let COVID or the ramifications of what that ’ s caused actually stop us from pursuing and pushing forward .
Like everything , once we get through this , we will be better for it , and I think it was a great learning curve , especially around infection control . But I really think we ’ ve forgotten that this is still a great job . We have the privilege of looking after elderly people every day and getting paid for that . So I think we need to try and recapture some of that .
With an upcoming federal election there ’ s a lot of talk about aged care being a topical issue , but what do staff actually say they want in terms of government assistance ? They don ’ t really talk too much about it to be honest . When they think of the
12 | nursingreview . com . au government , they know they have their policies and fund a lot of aged care . They understand that side of it , but from a government and from a federal perspective , those decisions and what happens at that level ... the guys aren ’ t really privy to that . They don ’ t really understand that .
From a frontline worker ’ s perspective , they just want to be heard and they want to feel valued . If you give them that , I think it will change the shape of aged care .
Paying them a one-off bonus is going to make them happy for a little while , but it ’ s not going to keep them . There ’ s also that workplace and management and great leadership that ’ s going to keep them in an environment where they feel like they ’ re part of the bigger picture , not just a pawn in the game of aged care – that their manager or their leaders are working with them and side by side , not necessarily leading from the top , which it quite often is the case in this industry .
It ’ s about giving them the opportunity to speak up , making you feel like you ’ re an important part of the team and the organisation . I guess compassion ’ s probably the word that we should put in there and I think if there ’ s ever a need for compassion , it ’ s probably right now , given the last two years that we ’ ve experienced .
The next two years are huge for aged care . There ’ s a lot of reforms coming in . Do staff feel supported and ready for these changes ? I don ’ t think so . To be honest , I ’ m not sure they ’ re ready to discuss or go into that at the moment . I think it ’ s about trying to deal with the issues happening now and giving them some insight into that , and then slowly transitioning to what we ’ re going to do and where we ’ re going to go in the future – and ask for and get some contributions from the guys on the frontline .
There are some amazing people who work on the frontline and have got such great insights and could actually make a big difference on some of the decisionmaking that happens , so don ’ t rule them out .
What do you think the sector needs so it can emerge from this current crisis ? It ’ s about being more involved in what the frontline staff are doing , and that
“ All the wonderful things that we love about aged care have not gone anywhere .
way you can adapt and change and work with them , rather than giving them the directives and just hoping that it works .
If you ’ re managing a team of staff , work with them , don ’ t just be that manager or director from the top who says ‘ this is what we ’ re doing now ’. You ’ re not letting them be part of the conversation and part of the bigger picture .
We need to make sure our staff are empowered and ready to do the job and make a difference for the clients because they love what they do .
We ’ ve all had jobs where the environment was amazing . Maybe the jobs weren ’ t always that great , but because of the environment , because of a great manager and the people that we are working with , we always put our hands up and do that little bit extra . That ’ s not going to happen in an environment where it ’ s negative and people feel like it ’ s poisonous .
What would your advice be for a care worker who is struggling in their job at the moment ? I think the first thing for a care worker , no matter how long you ’ ve been in the industry , is to reach out to your peers and those you know , work with and trust , so that you can have those important conversations to help you .
If you ’ ve got something to talk about or need to get something off your chest , that ’ s the best way to do it . Don ’ t just decide to end it and go and do something else , because the grass isn ’ t always greener on the other side .
You just need to find that person , and generally someone you know that you work with is probably the best person to start with and then , if you ’ ve got a great manager , reach out to them .
I would expect a manager at the moment to talk to me and be comfortable in doing that , and knowing that you can share anything , and nothing ’ s off the table if you need to talk about it .
So don ’ t hold it in , just get out there and talk to someone about it . ■