Mary is a resident of an aged care home in Melbourne. Due to severe arthritis, she has great difficulty walking. She can walk very slowly with a walking frame, but fears she will fall over if not accompanied by someone who can support her.
When she wants to go anywhere, including to the toilet, she has to summon a staff member with a buzzer. But often she has to wait a long time.
Similarly, after being taken to the dining room for a meal, or being taken to other activities, she often has to wait a long time before being taken back to her room.
This is frustrating and Mary sometimes gets angry with the staff. But she realises that there is fundamental problem: the lack of sufficient staff to deal with the needs of all the residents.
There is a fairly high turnover of staff in her home, as workers leave for other jobs with higher pay.
Sue Bolton, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Wills, told Green Left there is an urgent need for more staff in aged care homes, and for them to be better paid.
“The government should legislate for higher staff-to-patient ratios to guarantee adequate care. I support the union campaign for a 25% pay rise,” Bolton said.
“Better still, aged-care homes should be run as a public service, with adequate funding, so people like Mary don’t have to suffer.”