COVID Recovery Phase is approaching, but are CHSP providers and their staff ready?
We are currently living in unprecedented times. Who ever thought that in our lifetime we would see scenes on TV of Italy and the famous St Michaels Square in Venice in complete lockdown, or the USA battling with the tragic loss of hundreds of thousands of lives due to a global pandemic caused by COVID-19.
In Australia, the aged care system is experiencing significant strain under the pandemic. A sector which has focused on face to face human interaction after decades has suddenly found its services and engagement strategies a risk to their consumers,
COVID-19 has placed further demands on our aged care service system and resources, in particular on the aged care staff and personnel. Care workers are claiming to be working extended hours to meet the additional demands, workload, telephone calls, and new activities implemented to combat Covid 19. Staff are in many cases asked to work longer hours and work across other programs and roles to fill gaps.
Unfortunately, the aged care sector is no stranger to overworked staff and high levels of burnout and stress, however, the pandemic has added a new dimension to this existing problem. Threats of infecting loved ones or clients with fatal consequences, deterioration of vulnerable seniors in lockdown, ad-hoc training and infection control measures placing time constraints on CHSP providers and staff are all adding to the pressure.
Our workplace has also been transformed. Working from home has seen small city dwellings remodeled into full-time home offices. Staff are torn between caring for family while facilitating back to back meetings online. The stress of not being able to balance and separate work and family life in many cases has placed even further pressure on the workers.
I’m not switching off. We are busier now more than ever and we are not even seeing clients face-to-face. They say it may be another 3-6 months before we see a return to the old program. I hope I make it to the end
Jelena, 46yrs, Social Support group coordinator
, As the demand to help seniors and vulnerable older persons increases, we ,unfortunately do not see the same trend in the number of care staff and trainees entering the care giving sector. In fact, it is the opposite.
According to data projections, we can expect a 30% reduction in care staff over the next three to six months which will have a significant impact on an already struggling sector. With the increase of hours and stress and the lack of resources and personnel , exhaustion, burnout and work absenteeism are expected to increase with additional risks of workers compensation claims, workplace injuries and mental health issues.
While we are pointing the finger at COVID 19 and its significant impact on aged care , it is important to recognise that it was also the catalyst as they say, for instrumental change and innovation.
CHSP providers and staff across the states and territories are demonstrating incredible feats of innovation, resilience, flexibility and adaptability in a very short period of time. These new practices will sculpt a new aged care landscape which values a shared benefit. For example social support groups and local restaurants are working together to deliver warm home-cooked meals to their senior members while in isolation. This maintains healthy eating practices for seniors while helping local business keep their doors open. Initiatives like online yoga, Tai Chi on the balcony in aged care homes, seniors logging online with ipads and smart phones and of course let us not forget Teleconference Bingo. All of these initiaitves began out of Covid-19.
So How Do We Prepare For Covid-19 Recovery
Part 2 of this article to be released soon
Watch this space
Part 2 of this article to be released shortly
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