Rally for ratios leads to staff improvements
Bupa initially tried to dissuade staff from attending a rally in support of ratios but later responded with small measures to alleviate workload pressure.
Aged care owner Bupa indicated that any employee who attended a brief rally while on duty would be docked four hours’ pay.
Bupa issued the warning to staff at its Pottsville nursing home on the NSW far north coast.
Nurses say the company also sent Sydney-based, human resources staff to Pottsville who observed the rally and photographed nurses who took part.
However, nurses refused to be intimidated and gathered on the footpath in front of the home.
They displayed a banner and placards and handed out leaflets calling on the company to urgently employ more staff and for aged care staffing ratios to be made law.
Family members and friends of residents joined the rally.
To date, it appears no nurse has had their pay docked for attending the protest in their own time on 27 September.
Branch delegate and secretary Sue Wilson said management put a notice on the staffroom wall warning that any employee who took part in the rally would be docked four hours’ pay.
Conditions have improved since rally
She said conditions had slightly improved since the rally as a result of management introducing staggered start and finish times for some shifts.
“Some staff now start an hour earlier to help shower and dress those residents who are awake and can eat breakfast earlier,” she said.
“Also, a staff member comes in an hour earlier in the afternoon and they are bringing back the recreation officer for the dementia unit on weekends.
“These steps seem to have alleviated a bit of the pressure on staff and residents. At least Bupa is listening to us, which they were not doing before.
“However, we still need more staff, especially at night.
“We need extra staff – AiNs, ENs and RNs – on all three floors because every nursing category is having more and more work put on them.”
Sue said workload pressures intensified after management cut nursing hours earlier this year.
“We can have an EN looking after as many as 50 low-care and dementia residents across two floors and an AiN trying to care for up to 22 residents.”
In a letter to Bupa management, NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said cuts to nursing hours on rosters in March, April and May this year coincided with an increase in residents’ falls.
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