AGED CARE CUTS

Il­loura oper­a­tor South­ern Cross Care takes ra­zor to staffing hours in bid to en­sure ‘long-term vi­a­bil­ity’ of the or­gan­i­sa­tion

Chinchilla News - - FRONT PAGE - Matthew New­ton matthew.new­ton@chin­chillanews.com.au

SOUTH­ERN Cross Care’s Il­loura and Le­ich­hardt Villa nurs­ing homes in Chinchilla and Ta­room have slashed hun­dreds of hours from their fort­nightly staff ros­ters in a bid to cut costs.

The cuts came into ef­fect yes­ter­day in Chinchilla and ex­tend right across South­ern Cross Care Queens­land’s net­work.

The Catholic char­ity op­er­ates 11 res­i­den­tial care prop­er­ties across the state.

At Il­loura alone, 518 hours have been cut from the fort­nightly ros­ter – a move the Queens­land Nurses and Mid­wives Union claims will af­fect the qual­ity of care res­i­dents re­ceive.

A fur­ther 108 nurs­ing hours have been cut from Le­ich­hardt Villa in Ta­room, ac­cord­ing to the union.

Staff are now won­der­ing how they will make ends meet, with many only re­ceiv­ing 16 hours of work – two shifts – a fort­night.

Union re­gional team leader Auriel Robinson said South­ern Cross Care Queens­land ex­ec­u­tives an­nounced the cuts to staff at an “emo­tion­less” meet­ing at Il­loura on May 30.

“The toe-cut­ters came up and gave a very cal­lous, emo­tion­less ac­count of why there’s go­ing to be hours cut and (staff ) got told when they leave the room the care man­ager at the back has a letter for them,” she said.

“They get their let­ters, leave the room, open them and they’re dis­traught.

“There’s tears, they don’t know how they’re go­ing to pay their mort­gages.”

SCCQ act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Scott Wil­son was con­tacted for com­ment but de­clined to be in­ter­viewed.

In a state­ment pro­vided to Chinchilla News, SCCQ chief of in­te­grated ser­vices de­liv­ery Vicki Eckart said that as a char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion, “South­ern Cross Care is not bur­dened by the need for profit, how­ever the sus­tain­abil­ity of the vi­tal ser­vice pro­vided de­mands that the or­gan­i­sa­tion is run ef­fi­ciently”.

“The aged care sec­tor is con­stantly evolv­ing and South­ern Cross Care must evolve with it to en­sure best prac­tice in ser­vice de­liv­ery and ef­fi­ciency.”

SCCQ made a profit of $6 mil­lion in the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year, con­sist­ing of an op­er­at­ing profit of

$1.7 mil­lion and $4.3 mil­lion at­trib­uted to a fair gain in as­sets. Ms Robinson said she and her union mem­bers held con­cerns for the qual­ity of care res­i­dents would re­ceive into the fu­ture as a re­sult of the cuts.

“No­body is sit­ting around on their lau­rels in aged care... Our mem­bers are say­ing to us they are con­cerned about res­i­dents,” she said.

“They don’t now how they’re go­ing to con­tinue to pro­vide the care they deem is nec­es­sary from a care point of view but also from hos­pi­tal­ity with cuts to the kitchen and clean­ing staff – that work has still got to be done by some­body.”

Ms Robinson said it was im­por­tant to note the cuts were not a re­flec­tion on the fa­cil­ity man­agers at the nurs­ing homes.

“These fa­cil­ity man­agers at these places, some of them are ab­so­lutely dis­traught they’ve had to be part of this for their staff,” she said.

“It’s not the fa­cil­ity man­agers on-site that have made these de­ci­sions, it’s the ex­ec­u­tive of South­ern Cross.

“Hav­ing sat through some of these pre­sen­ta­tions my­self, they’re very cold, very cal­lous and don’t seem to show any com­pas­sion to­ward the staff at all.

“(The ex­ec­u­tives) say ‘this will be the worst day’. Well, for our mem­bers, (when they got their letter) is not the worst day. It’s a shock, but in six weeks time when they’re strug­gling to pay their mort­gage or their car’s get­ting repossessed, this is the start of a very trau­matic time for them.

“They have no em­pa­thy for their staff and I think they need to re­visit some of these cuts.”

South­ern Cross Care’s state­ment said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was analysing and re­align­ing staffing ros­ters across all its res­i­den­tial aged care fa­cil­i­ties to en­sure the or­gan­i­sa­tion was pro­vid­ing uni­form best-prac­tice lev­els of care with a sus­tain­able level of ef­fi­ciency.

SCCQ’s Vicki Eckart said the char­ity was “work­ing with our loyal staff to en­sure we min­imise the im­pact on them and we sin­cerely re­gret any hard­ship this nec­es­sary re­align­ment may cause”.

“In some towns, South­ern Cross Care is the only aged care provider and we owe it to our com­mu­ni­ties to en­sure we can sur­vive into the fu­ture and con­tinue to de­liver our vi­tal ser­vice to older Queens­lan­ders,” Ms Eckart said.

“As a char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion, our whole mis­sion is to value and re­spect hu­man life and we are de­ter­mined to look after our older Queens­lan­ders, par­tic­u­larly in ar­eas that are not ser­viced by the for-profit sec­tor.”

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