A third of aged care nurses may walk out

High levels of stress in aged care mean that a third of the nursing and care workforce is considering changing jobs.

An alarming new study reveals that about a third of aged care nurses are thinking of leaving their job within the next 12 months.

The research, conducted by the Centre for Human Resource Management at the University of Melbourne in collaboration with the Australian Nursing Federation, found that nurses in the industry were experiencing high levels of stress and emotional exhaustion.

The most common reasons given for stress were excessive workloads, cost cutting, a hostile work environment and competing role demands.

On average, participants reported experiencing five physical health symptoms in the month leading up to the survey.

The findings are based on a 2007 survey of more than 1,000 RNs and personal care workers in Victoria.

The study’s authors said their research emphasised the importance of a thorough approach to human resource management.

“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,” said Associate Professor Leisa Sargent.

“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.”

Associate Professor Sargent said that the current Commonwealth funding model is exacerbating the pressure on providers, adding that this pressure is likely to increase as the population ages.

The researchers have received funding from the Australian Research Council to further investigate these findings over the next two years.

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