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Aged Care wages can't be ignored

Aged Care wages can't be ignored
Photo: Aged care wages can't be ignored
A recent survey of nurses and carers working in Aged Care has highlighted the disparity in wages for nurses and carers working in residential aged care relative to nurses and carers working in the public hospital sector.  The survey of 242 nurses and carers also revealed the extent of aged care workers resentment at their wages and work loads, with 98% of PCAs, AINs and ENs responding that they do not believe they receive a fair wage for the work they do.

For aged care nursing jobs click here
This follows the results of the Nurses: Violence at Work survey (also conducted by Nursing Careers Allied Health earlier this year), which revealed that violence in the aged care work place is systemic, and that many aged care workers experience repeated incidents of violence as part of the job.

A summary of key results from the survey is listed below, and are illustrated in the infographic.  A selection of quotes submitted by survey participants is included at the bottom of this article.
  • 98% of ENs, AINS and PCAs do not believe they receive a fair wage for the work they do
  • AINs and PCAs earn on average 12% less than their counterparts that work in the public hospital system
  • Enrolled Nurses earn on average 10% less than Enrolled Nurses working in public hospitals
  • Registered Nurses earn on average 4% less than Registered Nurses working in public hospitals
  • Gaining years of experience as an aged care nurse translates to a negligible increase in wage.
  • Nurse to patient ratios in the aged care sector can be as high as 20 to 1 (relative to a typical 4 to 1 in the public hospital sector)

Click here to download the infographic as a PDF file.




Click here for more information about nursing wages in Australia.

A Selection of Survey Quotes:

Wages are disgusting!!!! I’m in charge of over 90 patients and I earned more in my last job as a checkout chick!!!! You can’t get any more wrong than that.
Registered Nurse - QLD

With the ageing population, there will be no assistant in nursing or care workers as the pay is poor.
AIN – NSW

Our job is harder & heavier than general nursing. Yes I know both careers have the stress of losing patients/residents, but in aged care you get closer to them & when you lose them it is like losing a family member.
AIN – NSW

Morning shift are worked like dogs in nursing homes and for the lowest wage. It is the hardest shift with the lowest rate of pay.
AIN – QLD

We deserved to be paid a fair rate of pay. ...cleaners get more than we do... call centre consultants get more than we do... If the pay rate was better then maybe the turnover of staff wouldn’t be so high
AIN – NSW

Aged care nurses work very hard, I believe they deserve better pay. We do A LOT of work that most AIN's in a hospital setting wouldn't  do.
AIN – NSW

Nurses and carers don't get enough for the job they do. We have people’s lives in our hands yet we get paid less than checkout chicks or sales assistants. We are responsible for peoples health and wellbeing and put up with a lot of abuse from residents, families. We are in contact with illnesses, urine, feaces and vomit on a daily basis and rarely finish work at the right time.
AIN – NSW

We need more nurses and ratios of nurses to patients/residents as it’s not fair on the residents and staff to be understaffed and over worked!
AIN – NSW

They need to be on par with the Public Sector if we are going to be able to compete for the skilled RN & EEN that the sector so desperately needs.  As for my rate that is for managing a 170 bed site.  If I was in the Public Sector I would be paid that for managing a 30 bed unit.  It just doesn't add up.
Director of Nursing – NSW

I am leaving the aged care sector for office work because aged care nursing does not pay me enough to live!
AIN – QLD

The wages for people working in aged care are disgusting. The work we do and the amount of care that we provide for these people is not matched at all with the wages that we receive. I have my Cert IV in aged care, my place of employment does not pay me any extra from a Cert III, so there is no incentive to further my education in this field. In my position I issue medications, insulin, dress all wounds, create wound charts, complete ACFI paperwork as well as all of the other care needs which are needed for the aged. Not only do we have to do this, we have to serve meals and clean up the dining rooms after each meal and we do not have a cleaning staff that manage the linen changes, so we have to do that as well. It is very hard to have that drive to want to stay in this line of work, when there clearly is absolutely no recognition for what we do. We have a duty of care when we are at work for other peoples relatives and loved ones, but what do we get in return? Long hours and low pay!  At my place of employment our staff to resident ratio is 1 carer/ain to 20 residents. With those numbers against us, how can we possibly be providing the best possible care that they need? It is very hard to hear that the nurses in NSW went on strike recently due to the staff to patient ratio...... I would like to see what people really thought if they knew how bad most aged care workers really have it. Whilst I fully support the nurses pushing for what is right for them, what about us? Why is there never any recognition for what we do and the levels that we have to work with?
AIN – NSW

Higher pay in aged care facilities and improve the nurse to patient ratio. One AIN to 15+ residents is unacceptable and is detrimental to care.
AIN – QLD

It's not fair though, we work long hours, getting covered in every bodily fluid imaginable, we get hit, kicked, spat at, and sworn at. For this job and the dangers we face I think we deserve more.
AIN – NSW

Wage rates need to reflect the skill level of the staff employed however the staff employed and in particular the registered nursing staff need to display that skill level. RN's have allowed themselves to deskill - clinical assessments are poorly completed or just not undertaken, reflective practise is not considered the providence of the RN, assessments are not assessments i.e. data gathering only. RN's do not see the need for contributing to documentation in particular ACFI's unless at CN level. RN's need to see themselves as clinical leadership within the aged care sector. My parting comment would be I generally get much more out of the EN cohort - they are willing to undertake their roles.  Often the RN will encourage them to work outside their scope to reduce their need to take clinical responsibility
Director of Nursing – QLD

I believe the Government fails to recognise the complexity of aged care nursing, overloads us with documentation for accreditation/standards purposes, and fails to recognise the heavy workload of patient ratio 1:7 am shift, 1:8 pm shift, 1:10 night shift. Physical assaults towards nurses and resident to resident are common.
Enrolled Nurse – VIC

We are used by the government and organisations as cheap labour. We are expected to know as much as nurses and have the same responsibilities at times but we have not had their training.  Half the time there are no nurses on site and we have these people lives in our hands.  Ours is supposedly low care but there are many high care people there, we still run with minimum staff and are always run off our feet.
PCA – VIC

PCA's, AIN's, Support Workers, etc need to be all called the same thing (to) avoid all the confusion of what we do. Then we need to be registered like nurses so we can be taken seriously otherwise we will always be treated as the lessor category of patient care provider in the team and I for one am tired of being under valued as well as being underpaid!
PCA – TAS

95% of our Residents are High Care. This facility has only two R.N's, myself and the facility Manager. Most of the residents have very complex health issues and often acute medical conditions requiring advanced clinical assessment skills. Time and again the EEN's & Care staff are completely out of their depth and myself and the other R.N are frequently called after hours for phone advice. Every day, without exaggeration, sees us never have a meal break and work unpaid overtime. We are both studying Master's degrees and are well aware that we will not receive any paid recognition for this upon completion, despite absolute relevance to our working environment, while in the current Aged Care environment.  We genuinely care about our residents but to be recognised with appropriate financial reward seems likely to never happen causing us both to question why we are doing what we do.
Registered Nurse – VIC

The difference between NFP and FP facilities is significant, given working in NFP allows salary packaging.
Registered Nurse – NSW

The current agreements do not recognise years of experience or further education undertake at our own expense.
Registered Nurse – NSW

Where do I start.  I am in a 60 bed Low care Facility with 40 of these residents high care. I love my job, but I am the only RN. My position is as the RN Care coordinator. I don't know how they, the big private owners, get away with not employing RN's on every  shift. EN's in charge when I am not there is criminal and dangerous for these residents and their multiple co-morbidities. Someone has to do something for the elderly. I have always worked in acute care, previous position was in ED for 10 years. So Aged Care is new to me and I am becoming passionate about the elderly and the hard working carers at the bedside. My role is huge, lot of work, long hours, take work home and I am so lucky I have an understanding family. The wages are disgusting for what we do.
Registered Nurse – SA

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