Aged care workers have insufficient time to meet their clients’ basic social and emotional needs due to an overwhelming workload, a report has found.
The joint UNSW Sydney, Macquarie University and RMIT report, ‘Meeting the social and emotional support needs of older people using aged care services’, found numbers of aged care places have exceeded workplace growth, with no increase in the ratio of fulltime care workers to residential care places since 2003.
“Care workers routinely observe that older people’s emotional needs are left unmet in the system designed to support them,” said Wendy Taylor from RMIT’s School of Management.
“In the aged care system today, overlooking older people’s basic social and emotional needs has become part of accepted business practices.”
Professor Sara Charlesworth of RMIT’s School of Management added: “Employment conditions and pay rates in aged care also fail to recognise the specific skills and demands of the work, leaving care workers and older people vulnerable.”
Other key findings of the report
- The skill profiles of residential care workers have deteriorated.
- The amount of direct care work in residential settings performed by personal care workers has increased from 57 per cent (2003) to 72 per cent (2016).
- 90 per cent of care workers report no time to respond to unexpected needs or to spend time with an older person in low spirits.
- 78 per cent of care workers report insufficient time to support older people to do things for themselves, eg, use a walker instead of a wheelchair.
- Only 37 per cent of care workers feel their managers understand the need of workers to form relationships with older people – this is typically seen as ‘slacking off’.
The report comes a week before the release of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety interim report is due next Thursday (October 31).