New push for carers

Sharon Kemp | Bendigo Weekly | 02-Nov-2017

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REGISTERED and patient care assistants at Bupa Aged Care in Bendigo stopped work on Tuesday in a bid to improve staffing ratios, wages and conditions nationally for the company’s care workers.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation organiser Loretta Marchesi said union members would ensure care at the centre was not compromised but protected industrial action was required to draw Bupa to negotiate an improved wage and conditions agreement.

Ms Marchesi said Bupa was making considerable profit but their aged care workers were among the lowest paid in the sector.

“We definitely want some committments that they will replace staff when they are off sick so that we maintain a reasonable level of staffing, we would like to see a good ratio of personal carers to residents,” Ms Marchesi said.                                                                                                                                                     

“Bupa makes a significant amount of profit, why not put some of that back into staff, make sure they have got appropriate staffing level, making sure staff are replaced, making sure they are paid to industrial standard.

“I think the staff are somewhat disappointed that Bupa aren’t negotiating reasonably.

“We have got others in the private aged care sector that are.”

A spokesperson for Bupa said the company remained in discussions in the Fair Work Commission.

“We continue to negotiate in good faith with the unions,” Bupa said in a statement.

“Our latest offer includes an 11.25 per cent wage increase over three years, and protection of penalty rates including weekend loadings.”

 Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters visited union members in support of industrial action and said her particular concern was staffing ratios at the Bendigo centre of one registered nurse to 50 residents.

A registered nurse will treat patients’ medical needs, participate in a transfer and carry out an assessment.

Currently, there is is no mandatory minimum staff-to-patient ratio.

Federal legislation only states that aged care facilities must have an appropriate level of staff and care.

Ms Chesters said she would lobby for mandated ratios in Canberra.

“I want to see stronger ratios. It is something our nurses shouldn’t have to bargain for, it should be mandatory, like we have in early learning education,” she said.

“Bupa needs to step up, people living in aged care, they deserve better.”

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