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How to ensure your aged care employees aren’t overworked

Friday, December 22, 2017   Care

Working in aged care is no easy feat. Employees regularly go above and beyond their job description, performing a range of tasks that are both physically and emotionally demanding. 

A recent report from Reventure has found that nearly half of all health and aged care professionals in Australia were in danger of being overworked. When staff are burnt out and exhausted, mistakes are made and output suffers, which is something that just can't happen in an industry as important as aged care. So what can be done to end the problem of overwork? 

Health and aged care professionals – among Australia's most overworked

Because aged care professionals are so compassionate and dedicated, they often take on extra duties for patients and their employer. According to Reventure research, Australian health and aged care professionals consistently act as family support people, financial planners and even secretaries. 

Australian health and aged care professionals consistently act as family support people, financial planners and even secretaries.

What happens when employees are stretched too thin? For one, the quality of care drops. Monash University research has shown that 71 per cent of Australian health and aged care professionals felt they had more work than they could do well and 67 per cent reported that their jobs required them to work very fast several times a day.

This, of course, is concerning for aged care patients and their families expecting crucial care, as well as the employees themselves. A wide body of research has shown that overworked employees often struggle to sleep, lapse in self care routines like exercise and healthy eating, and are at a higher risk of heart-related problems and diabetes. The strain has gotten so bad that 32 per cent of respondents in the Monash University survey said they were "likely" or "very likely" to leave the profession entirely. 

Health and aged care professionals routinely perform tasks outside of their job descriptions. Health and aged care professionals routinely perform tasks outside of their job descriptions.

What can the industry do to look after aged care professionals? 

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the number and proportion of Australians aged 65 is projected to grow. In 2016, 15 percent of all Australians were aged 65 and over, up from 5 per cent in 1926 and 9 per cent in 1976, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). By 2056, AIHW estimates that older Australians will make up 22 per cent of the population and will reach 25 per cent of the population in 2096. 

With the number of aged Australians growing, we simply can't afford to lose health and aged care professionals. So what can be done to keep them satisfied in the industry? 

Some first steps for nursing homes and aged care facilities to take include:

  • Making efforts to attract the right people to the industry. Nursing and care giving can't be totally automated. Therefore, it's essential to continue to recruit compassionate, dedicated professionals. 
  • Encouraging staff to speak up as more than half (54 per cent) of professionals were hesitant to voice concerns due to fear of retribution, according to Monash University. 
  • Checking in that staff are not routinely performing duties outside of their job description. 

Wherever possible, nursing homes and aged care facilities should also outsource extra work to external contractors, including a professional aged care cleaning company. At ACW Care, we understand that nurses and caregivers work hard enough – they shouldn't have to perform tasks like cleaning, housekeeping and record keeping. That's why we offer a comprehensive aged care cleaning service that takes a huge amount of extraneous work off of your staff.

ACW Care employees are not only cleaning professionals, they're also trained extensively in working with elderly and cleaning for health and safety.. We even use a reporting system designed for the aged care industry. Because we take care of all record keeping, your staff aren't bogged down keeping track of all of the documentation required in government audits.

To find out more about how we can optimise the cleaning program at your nursing home, reach out to the team at ACW Care today.