The aged care sector is experiencing numerous challenges at present, with facilities struggling to fill shifts and staff feeling overworked and overwhelmed by the pandemic.
Blue Haven acknowledges that we too are understaffed, like most other organisations in the sector. We are one of only nine remaining Local Councils still in aged care and the last in the state, and we are currently investigating options for the future.
Kiama Council and Blue Haven have been in this business for 40 years and this is the toughest time we have experienced in the sector.
Tightened Federal regulations since the Royal Commission, controlled pricing, changing legislation, COVID outbreaks and lack of staffing is making the industry very tough to navigate and work in. We know our staff are working in an extremely difficult environment, and we do all we can to support and promote the great work they do.
We have taken an active role addressing staff shortages in recent months.
Blue Haven is focused on addressing understaffing by bringing in a mix of permanent, part-time, temporary and agency staff to assist with our workload. Kiama Council is also seeking dedicated HR staff who can work solely on the Blue Haven business to help focus and streamline our recruitment processes.
Workforce reviews have been undertaken in the past month, by independent aged care experts, and continue to guide the priorities for staffing and workforce design. We recently announced all our staff will be given a COVID related bonus, matching that allocated by the Federal Government Aged Care Bonus, even those staff technically ineligible, as we recognise the stress and challenges associated with working in a lockdown environment due to COVID.
Dealing with complaints
It has been brought to our attention that there is a complaint about a breach of care listed on the Aged Care Watch website dated April 2022.
While we understand that a site such as AgedCareWatch.org.au fulfils a function, the site hosts – the United Workers Union – clearly state that the site’s information is not independently verified and “may contain errors or inaccuracies.”
We welcome the union’s involvement in any processes that help shine a spotlight on the ongoing sector-wide issues associated with aged care skills shortages, lack of staffing pipelines and industrial conditions affecting nursing and care staff throughout Australia.
However, we cannot officially investigate any matters that do not go through the proper reporting channels: either reported to a manager or supervisor, to the union, or to the Aged Care Commission.
Our staff are encouraged and fully supported to submit any complaints or feedback they might have. As a Local Government, we have more options for complaints and feedback beyond the Aged Care Commission – staff can choose to report issues to line management, the Council’s Public Officer or through the unions, consultative committee or within regular team meetings.
We have an excellent track record in terms of clinical care at Blue Haven, but, like any business, we are not perfect and we are constantly striving to improve.
We have been transparent about the fact Blue Haven received two official complaints late last year: Blue Haven seeks feedback to improve. We subsequently held a series of ‘Listening Post’ open forum sessions to gather feedback from residents and their families to improve our services: Listening Post learnings.
This feedback directly informed professional independent reviews of wound care, dietary and food options, lifestyle programs, staffing levels, policies and procedures etc. In February 2022, Council invested in a comprehensive end-to-end audit and review of the whole service’s performance across all of the quality standards for aged care. This project featured weekly reporting to management and the advisory board, and many improvements were realised quickly, with others continuing to be progressed.
Open disclosure is a requirement under the Aged Care Quality Standards under Standard 6: Feedback and Complaints, which aims to promote a clear and consistent approach to open communication with customers, encourages them to give positive and negative feedback about the care and services they receive and helps organisations keep improving and resolve issues.
Blue Haven’s Chief Operating Officer Kerrin Hunter recently resigned, so we will be undertaking recruitment for this role over the coming months. The business continues to be led by Kiama Council CEO Jane Stroud and a team of aged care experts in senior management roles.
The CEO, senior management and Councillors meet with the unions fortnightly to discuss matters and concerns. Management want to do all we can to help our staff and will again raise these complaint mechanisms for staff and engage directly with the workforce and unions on this subject matter.
- Blue Haven brought in specialists to do a wound audit of the entire Blue Haven Residential Aged Care Facility in November 2021.
- In February 2022, we invested more than $300,000 to undertake a full audit across all aged care quality standards alongside a continuous improvement program to support staff and residents, which has yielded great results.
- The weight of all Residential Aged Care clients is checked daily, weekly and monthly, dependent on their condition and any noticeable weight loss is reported to our dietician.
- Blue Haven communicates regularly and transparently with staff, residents and their families.
- We recently took advantage of the Australian Defence Force’s offer of help as part of its Operation COVID-19 Assist program, and have been open about the fact that we’re experiencing staffing challenges related to COVID lockdowns, and shortages.
- With our current COVID-19 outbreak we have requested the commonwealth’s assistance, who have been able to provide a small amount of additional support.
- We have created a new role explicitly focused in our HR department on Blue Haven, to help improve recruitment for the sector.
- In 2021, Blue Haven announced training partnerships with Kiama Community College and Kiama High School to attract more young people into the sector and ensure locals can find jobs locally. As the largest employer in our Local Government Area, Kiama Council is committed to providing local jobs for our community. Further Information can be found at: Blue Haven training partnerships Kiama Council (nsw.gov.au)
4th May 2022