Aged care executive says bonus splits workforce

Aged care

Peninsula Villages chief Mr Shane Neaves has criticised the Federal Government’s Aged Care Retention Bonus Grant, saying it is insufficient and has split the aged care workforce by omitting some workers from the benefit.

“The additional funding promised by the Government was to support and help the sector to stay strong, including a Retention Bonus Grant for aged care workers,” Mr Neaves said.

“But the Commonwealth will only offer financial support to ‘direct care’ workers.

“Any management, human resources or workplace culture specialist will reveal that the promotion of equality, teamwork and an engaged workforce will lead to increased productivity, retention and success.

“The Government’s Retention Bonus for Aged Care splits the most important factor in providing holistic care by dividing the workforce into those rewarded and those not.

“It does this at a time when everyone needs to work as a team and be acknowledged for the important role they play in providing holistic care.

“I openly invite the Government to address the ‘non-direct care’ workers who have risked their own personal safety to work in the aged care sector and provide important interaction with our residents as to why they aren’t being rewarded.

“Only recognising one side of the sector is poor form.”

Mr Neaves said staff not entitled to the bonus included: the laundry supervisor, who deals daily with infection, heavily soiled linen and resident’s personal items; the environmental services worker, who maintains residents’ rooms and common areas, ensuring a clean and safe environment; the grounds manager who provides gardens and grounds to encourage outdoor activity; the catering service, which provides nutritious menus; the maintenance officer, who looks after the facility; and the receptionist, who provides high level assistance to residents and their families.

Mr Neaves said all these services played an extremely important role in the direct care of residential aged care residents.

“If these roles weren’t all involved in the residents’ lives, holistic care would be significantly compromised,” he said.

“The aged care sector in Australia has worked hard and done an incredible job to protect our older Australians, despite all the extra hard work and the administrative burden that has been added due to the Covid-19 pandemic – to an already over-burdened and underfunded sector.”

But Member for Robertson Ms Lucy Wicks said the aim of the payment was to encourage direct care workers, who were providing clinical care and personal care and allied health workers to remain employed in residential and home care during the pandemic.

“The focus of this measure is on the retention of direct care workers recognising the particular role they play in caring for individuals,” Ms Wicks said.

“For residential aged care, workers registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers who are directly in contact with residents to assist with dressing, showering, wound management, medication, movement, feeding, hygiene and grooming or similar direct care activities are eligible.

“The intent of the measure is about their usual role.

“If a staff member spends one hour a day providing direct care then this time is eligible; if they are only providing broad assessment processes, advice and office work then that is deemed ineligible.

“Nurses performing an administrative role such as ACFI assessments will be ineligible for the payment.”

Ms Wicks said in addition to the retention bonus, the Government had committed $78.3M in temporary additional funding for residential aged care providers to support additional costs and workforce supply pressure resulting from Covid-19.

“Aged care providers may choose to use some of this funding to support workers not eligible for the retention bonus,” she said.

Media release, 30 June 2020
Shane Neaves, Peninsula Villages
Media statement, 6 July 2020
Lucy Wicks, Member for Robertson