Cooinda nurses and carers rally for better conditions.
Cooinda nurses and carers rally for better conditions. Troy Jegers

Cooinda denies Union's aged care claims at Gympie protest

A 50-strong crowd of Gympie's aged care staff united for a vocal rally out the front of the Cooinda Aged Care centre in protest of "poor conditions for elderly residents and those who care for them" yesterday afternoon.

Bearing banners, slogans and chants such as "Keep the care in aged care, residents deserve better", the protesters took their stand against alleged "understaffing and resulting inability to provide quality care at all times."

 

ABOVE: A crowd of more than 50 nurses and carers carrying placards rally outside Gympie's Cooinda Aged Care facility yesterday.
ABOVE: A crowd of more than 50 nurses and carers carrying placards rally outside Gympie's Cooinda Aged Care facility yesterday. Troy Jegers

Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union Assistant Secretary Sandra Eales said staff and QNMU representatives had "recently asked Cooinda management to solve excessive workloads and improve care".

A QNMU statement said Cooinda management had "refused to include the amendment" in the enterprise bargaining process "currently underway".

"Australian aged care is in crisis," Ms Eales said.

"I congratulate Gympie aged care workers for standing up to what is effectively the big business of aged care.

"Australian aged care providers recently reported profits of more than $1.1 billion. They also receive around $18 billion in federal tax payer funds every financial year. They should be made legally responsible for hiring and properly paying skilled staff to provide quality care for residents."

QNMU have further claimed Cooinda staff have reported "160 residents were left with just one Registered Nurse overnight, every night", something Ms Eales described as "unacceptable".

"A ratio of one (RN) to 160 residents, including 25 dementia patients, is unsafe and unacceptable," Ms Eales said.

"But in Australia it's not illegal ... because the Federal Government will not introduce federal laws to force aged care providers to safely staff their facilities."

A statement released by Cooinda disputed "inaccurate statements" made by QNMU and said "ensuring our residents receive the best care possible is of critical importance".

"No employees at Cooinda are paid below award rates, nor are they among the lowest paid in the industry. This can be verified through public information from Fair Work Australia," the statement read.

"There are currently no regulations around (nurse to resident ratios). Cooinda has a registered nurse on every shift, there are four clinical nurses working Monday through Friday supported by registered nurses, enrolled nurses, and AINs, Allied Health staff (is) Monday to Friday, including physio, OT, exercise physiologist and clinical psychologist (to) provide direct resident care, as do Diversional Therapy staff.

"A roster team operates 7 days per week. Their duties include filling staff rosters in the case of absences (planned and unplanned).

"Cooinda achieved full reaccreditation following a visit from the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency in September, which included a thorough examination of human resources and clinical care.

"We wish to reassure residents and their loved ones that we take their care and support very seriously and will aim to keep their disruption to a minimum during this time."

 

Peter Bronley, Stacey Hanslow and Dylan Hanslow rally outside Cooinda.
Peter Bronley, Stacey Hanslow and Dylan Hanslow rally outside Cooinda. Troy Jegers

FULL COOINDA STATEMENT

Ensuring our residents receive the best care possible is of critical importance to all of us at Cooinda. In common with the QNMU, we share the desire to deliver the highest quality care to all Residents. We are also committed to continuous improvement and addressing concerns where they occur.

Therefore, we are disappointed by some of the inaccurate statements made about our facility in the media today. We provide the following to address the claims made by the QNMU at today's rally:

- Conditions below the Award: No employees at Cooinda are paid below award rates, nor are they among the lowest paid in the industry. This can be verified through public information from Fair Work Australia.

- No Nurse to Resident ratios: There are currently no regulations around these. Arguments in favour of fixed staffing numbers need to account for the fact that residential aged care is not funded to provide hospital-level care. Aged care providers operate with a budget of around $230 per day for each resident compared with $1900 per day in acute (hospital) settings.

- No commitment to stop requiring AINs and carers to administer medications: Medications at Cooinda are administered by enrolled nurses, registered nurses or clinical nurses with the appropriate endorsement.

- No paid domestic violence leave: Staff have the ability to access personal leave accruals plus the modern award provision for 5 days' unpaid leave.

- 1% pay increase for first year of agreement; discriminatory pay rises in subsequent years: The 1% increase in year one is in addition to a recent increase in entitlements equivalent to 2%. In subsequent years, increases of up to 3% have been offered

In addition, quality of Resident care is supported by the following:

- Cooinda has a registered nurse on every shift

- There are four clinical nurses working Monday through Friday supported by registered nurses, enrolled nurses, and AINs

- Allied Health staff: Monday - Friday, including physio, OT, exercise physiologist and clinical psychologist provide direct resident care, as do Diversional Therapy staff.

- A roster team operates 7 days per week. Their duties include filling staff rosters in the case of absences (planned and unplanned).

- Cooinda achieved full reaccreditation following a visit from the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency in September - which included a thorough examination of human resources and clinical care.

We wish to reassure residents and their loved ones that we take their care and support very seriously and will aim to keep their disruption to a minimum during this time.

Our valued aged care workforce is diverse, including nurses, care workers, managers, domestic, hospitality and administrative staff. Actions such as today's rally shine a light on aged care workforce needs to look after an increasingly ageing population, nationally and in Gympie.

The Government recently released an Aged Care Workforce Strategy for growing and sustaining the workforce. https://agedcare.health.gov.au/reform/aged-care-workforce-strategy-taskforce

We look forward to working with the QNMU on how we can all best ensure a diverse and sustainable workforce for the increasing numbers of those requiring our care and support.

Gympie Times


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