Illawarra aged care staff concerned over sanctions

Sanctions have been imposed at Garrawarra Centre at Waterfall due to concerns over behavioural management. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Sanctions have been imposed at Garrawarra Centre at Waterfall due to concerns over behavioural management. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Chronic underfunding has led to sanctions at two Illawarra aged care facilities according to a staff union.

Health Services Union public health manager David Perry said its members were devastated by federal government imposed sanctions at Garrawarra Centre, Waterfall and Hillside at Figtree.

Both facilities have until November to meet national accreditation standards, or they will lose their status as aged care providers.

‘’Staff are really concerned that the two facilities haven’t met the standards set down by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency,’’ Mr Perry said.

Read more: Health department outlines areas of concern at Figtree facility

‘’I think this is a result of chronic underfunding for aged care, something we’ve been screaming out for for a long time particularly where dementia care is concerned.’’

Garrawarra, run by NSW Health, received the six-month sanction in May due to concerns over behavioural management after a visit by the quality agency.

On the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District website the centre is described as one of the few purpose-built, dementia specific facilities in the state.

It states that the centre provides person-centred high level care for people with a dementia who ‘’exhibit challenging behaviours’’ and cannot be accommodated in a mainstream nursing home.

‘’Dealing with someone who’s got dementia is one of the hardest jobs our members have to face,’’ Mr Perry said. ‘’Staff are facing violence and aggression from some of these elderly patients who simply have no control over their actions.’’

Low pay rates and lack of recognition for the challenges of the job, meant many left the industry.

‘’We’re extremely concerned that these two facilities are not meeting the standards required meaning patient care is in jeopardy,’’ Mr Perry said.

‘’Both the federal and state government have to look at the challenge of funding aged care properly and making sure these workers are properly rewarded and paid.’’

Both facilities have moved to reassure residents and their families that they will work with the quality agency to regain their accreditation.

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