Workplace Health
HRM Guide Updates

Aged Care Nurses Quitting Due To Stress

November 27 2008 - A new University of Melbourne study has shown that nearly one third of registered aged care nurses are thinking about leaving their jobs in the next year because of stress.

The study of over 1000 Victoria's registered nurses and personal care workers in the State's aged care sector was conducted last year by the Centre for Human Resource Management at the University of Melbourne and the Australian Nursing Federation and shows that they are "emotionally exhausted" and not committed to their workplace. The study cites a number of significant factors as causing the stress, including:

  • Excessive workloads
  • Cost cutting
  • A hostile work environment, and
  • Competing role demands

According to researchers Associate Professor Leisa Sargent, Professor Bill Harley and Ms Belinda Allen, the study also shows that aged care facilities need to drastically improve their training and human resource management. They stated that:

"Facilities that provide more training, have rigorous recruitment, selection and performance management practices and developed grievance procedures benefit from staff who have a more positive attitude toward their work and better physical and mental health outcomes.

"Workers at these facilities also reported that the quality of care provided for residents was better than workers at facilities where there were poor human resource management practices and high levels of cost cutting in relation to staffing levels. In particular having fewer residents for each nurse to care for was associated with less frequent medication errors."

According to Leisa Sargent, current Commonwealth funding arrangements for nursing homes, introduced in 1997, have placed pressure on operators to cut costs. She said that:

"The rapidly-ageing population in Australia is placing an unprecedented strain on aged-care provision and it seems likely this pressure will continue in coming years.

"This pressure is likely to further damage the quality of working life for staff and undermine resident care."

A report on the findings will be presented at the Australian Nursing Federation's Aged Care Nurses Conference in Melbourne on Friday, to be opened by the Federal Minister for Aging, Justine Elliot.

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