The hand that feeds you

The hands that feed you, they say. And here I am, feeding the elderly, the frail, the forgotten. My name is Evelyn, and I’ve been a cleaner in 2 Aged Care facilities for the past one and a half decades.

I’ve seen it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve watched as residents fade away, their lives gently ebbing like the tide. I’ve held their hands, comforted their fears, and listened to their stories, each one a rich tapestry of a life well-lived.

But I’ve also seen the dark side of aged care, the side where profit trumps care, where the bottom line takes precedence over human dignity. I’ve seen the overworked and underpaid staff struggling to provide even the most basic care. I’ve seen residents neglected, their needs ignored, their cries for help falling on deaf ears.

It’s a system that’s broken, a system that needs fixing. And I’m angry. I’m angry that I had to choose between doing a job I know I’m good at, and my sanity and financial stability. I’m angry that aged care providers exploit our compassion, our dedication, and our sense of duty.

We do this work because we care. We care about the elderly, we care about their families, and we care about making their final days as comfortable and dignified as possible. But aged care providers know this, and they play on it. They know that we’ll do whatever it takes to care for our residents, even if it means sacrificing our own well-being.

And so, we’re taken advantage of. We’re paid a pittance, we’re overworked, and we’re constantly under pressure to do more with less. We’re treated like cogs in a machine, not like human beings.

While the politicians get on evening news and trumpet a 15% pay rise for aged care workers, what they don’t tell you is not all staff got the 15% pay-rise, cleaners like me didn’t, co-workers who serve food and do the laundry or maintenance didn’t, gardeners, drivers and so many crucial support staff got nothing. It’s sickening. Some providers are making millions of dollars off the backs of their staff, while the people we care for are suffering. It’s not right.

And it’s not just the exploitation that’s wrong. It’s the lack of care, the negligence, the abuse. It’s the fact that these providers are getting away with it.

We need to change this. We need to stand up for ourselves and for the people we care for. We need to demand better pay, better working conditions, and better care for our residents.

We need to make aged care a place where compassion is valued, where care is prioritised, and where dignity is never compromised.

I know it’s a tall order, but I believe we can do it. We have to do it, for the sake of our residents, and for the sake of our profession.

So, let’s raise our voices and make some noise. Let’s show the world that we’re not going to take it anymore. We’re the backbone of aged care, and we’re not going to be treated like second-rate citizens.

Together, we can make a difference. All aged care workers deserve better!