Southern Cross Care Tasmania Still Doesn’t Care for Residents and Staff

25 November 2021

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Tasmanian Branch today stated its serious and continued concerns for Southern Cross Care Aged Care residents and staff.

ANMF Branch Secretary Emily Shepherd said, “Rosary Gardens members this week advised Southern Cross Care (SCC) management had indicated they expected residents to help set tables for meals, make their own toast, make their own hot drinks and walk those drinks to the table.”

“We were also advised that residents who were unable to make it to the dining room would no longer receive a hot meal,” Ms Shepherd said.

“If these reports are correct, the ANMF and our members have grave concerns including infection control, risk to residents’ safety and the potential that this amounts to discrimination against the aged and also those with specific medical conditions.

“Furthermore, we note that many residents are admitted to higher care facilities precisely because they are not capable of safely performing simple home care duties such as making a cup of tea and going into an aged care facility is to actually receive care, not have to participate in the running of the facility.”

Ms Shepherd said the latest Enterprise Agreement (EA) being put to members is a further blow to a stressed and fatigued workforce and includes a loss of paid meal breaks for clinical staff.

“Currently the EA provides that a meal break will be taken within the 4th and the 6th hour.

“The ANMF understands SCC intends to remove this wording, therefore workers could be allocated a meal break in the 8th hour of work.

“The ANMF has also asked what shift patterns and rosters will look like if the paid meal break is removed. We are advised that will be sorted after the EA is voted on.”

SCC has also put forward a new pay offer to staff. The wage offer stands at 2.0% (from October 2021); 1.7% at October 2022 and 1.5% from October 2023. Members have until 3 December 2021 to vote and have been sent a document over 300 pages long to review.

“We have already been advised that members are not happy with the proposal.

“Some members have also reported that they have been advised by Robyn Boyd that if they do not vote up the offer from SCC, their facility will be shut down.

“Members continue to feel completely disrespected and unsupported by SCC and have been given no updates about the underpayment, identified in January 2020, by the employer and what impact this might have on them.

“While the ANMF continues to negotiate in good faith, we will take advice from members on industrial action, working conditions and staffing levels at SCC to ensure there is a safe working environment for staff, and a safe home for residents,” Ms Shepherd said.

However, the ANMF implores SCC to consider its approach to staffing and valuing of its critical aged care workforce both in terms of increasing staffing and also in terms of the wages and conditions being offered to staff.

These latest actions from SCC are poles apart from the Royal Commission recommendations, it’s as if SCC is not even aware the Royal Commission has taken place. SCC must look to working towards achieving these recommendations rather that taking actions that are in complete contradiction.

Media contact:
Emily Shepherd, ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary
Mobile: 0400 884 021