Nurses and midwives’ pandemic concerns revealed
A survey of Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) members has revealed how COVID-19 affected the workforce in 2020.
A survey on COVID-19 and workforce wellbeing conducted between August and October 2020 revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic left about half of Australia’s nursing, midwifery and care worker workforce feeling concerned about the welfare of their colleagues in 2020.
It found that just over half were moderately or extremely concerned about having adequate staff (53.18 per cent), the welfare of their colleagues (52.15 per cent), and having the right skills mix in the workplace (51.43 per cent).
One-quarter of respondents were moderately or extremely concerned about job security. Those who worked in residential aged care facilities were the most concerned (35.75 per cent).
Almost half (46.74 per cent) of all respondents felt their workload had significantly or moderately increased since the pandemic.
Those working in residential aged care facilities were most likely to report their workload had significantly or moderately increased (56.71 per cent).
Aged care members also reported the highest levels of workplace demand, role conflict, and work–life conflict, as well as the lowest role clarity compared to all other workplace groups. They also reported the lowest job satisfaction.
Most respondents (59.24 per cent) had experienced or felt community support for the work they do.
Out of the four main workplaces, those working in residential aged care facilities were the least likely to have experienced support or felt supported (43.37 per cent).
High numbers experienced abuse
One-third of respondents (33.22 per cent) had experienced abuse or been threatened by members of the public/patients at work, and 15.91 per cent had also experienced abuse by members of the public in settings outside of work.
Workers of Chinese ethnicity were the most likely to experience abuse or feel threatened outside of work (25.55 per cent).
More than 65 per cent of respondents rated the COVID-19 information provided by their workplace as good to excellent in regard to being timely, trustworthy, clearly written, consistent with other sources and comprehensive.
Protocols for general cleaning and cleaning of isolation rooms were also viewed as being good to excellent by most respondents.
Areas that were rated poor to very poor by at least 20 per cent of staff were managing staff abuse, access to workplace mental health support, and access to alternative accommodation.
Areas that were rated poor to very poor by at least 30 per cent of staff were being able to deploy more staff if required and debriefing processes.
The majority (57.61 per cent) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they were supported by their workplace regarding PPE concerns and requirements.
Forty per cent reported their workplace had cared for someone with confirmed COVID-19.
For those who worked in a setting where care was provided to COVID-19 patients/clients, only 21.01 per cent had provided direct care to those with con-firmed COVID-19.
Less than half (46.06 per cent) of respondents answered that they had not missed work due to reasons associated with COVID-19.
For those who had missed work, the most common type of leave taken was personal/
sick leave (64.12 per cent) or special COVID-19 paid leave (22.45 per cent).
About the workforce survey
The survey was conducted by the Rosemary Bryant AO Research Centre for the NSWNMA’s federal body, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).
The online, anonymous survey ran over 12 weeks between August and October 2020.
Across Australia, 11,902 nurses, midwives, personal care workers, and other healthcare providers answered at least one question.
Most responses (71.15 per cent) were from registered nurses, followed by enrolled nurses (14.65 per cent), midwives (7.12 per cent), personal care workers (6.66 per cent) and students (0.42 per cent).
Most responses were from Victoria (45.33 per cent) and NSW (25.53 per cent).