Union calls on Blue Care to safeguard jobs

Aged care workers at a BlueCare aged care home in Queensland which is facing closure should be redeployed in the area, says the Australian Workers’ Union.

Workers at a Blue Care aged care home in Queensland that is facing closure should be redeployed in the area, says the Australian Workers’ Union.

After the not-for-profit provider announced its Bundaberg Millbank Aged Care Facility was to shut in June, the site’s staff have been concerned they may have their shifts reduced or have no job at all if Blue Care doesn’t redeploy them in its other sites in the area – Bundaberg Riverlea and Bundaberg Pioneer.

Tony Beers

“We are calling on Blue Care to commit to redeploying all affected staff to other local facilities should they choose to be,” said AWU Central Queensland district secretary Tony Beers.

He added: “In a time when local aged care workers’ workloads are already stretched to the limits it makes no sense for Blue Care to not step in now and commit to protecting local aged care jobs and their existing hours.”

Located 364 kilometres north of Brisbane, the Millbank facility – which features 48 single rooms – has been providing aged care for older Australians for 65 years.

Residents began being relocated from the site on 21 March and no new admissions are being accepted by the provider.

Announcing the closure at the end of March, Blue Care – which is owned by Uniting Care Queensland – cited Covid-19 and ongoing financial pressures as contributing factors to the shutting of the facility.

“While disappointing for Blue Care, our people, residents and their families, we acknowledge the impact of Covid-19 on the aged care workforce as a whole and many regional towns in particular,” said a Blue Care spokesperson.

“Our facility at Millbank is old and requires significant investment in refurbishment to bring it up to the standard required to accommodate the increasing acuity in residents entering residential aged care. As a not-for-profit organisation, these factors have impacted the financial viability of our site.”

As for relocating Millbank’s residents, the spokesperson said: “Blue Care is committed to ensuring residents continue to be cared for and feel safe. We will continue to work with our residents, their families and carers, to ensure they find permanent alternatives based on their preferences and individual care needs.”

Addressing the workforce, the spokesperson added: “We will also work with our staff impacted by the closure to ensure they are supported throughout the transition process. This will include options such as redeployment to other services within the region and surrounds; according to each staff members individual circumstances.”

Despite the assurances, the closure of the Bundaberg Millbank facility will nevertheless be an anxious time for staff and residents alike, said Mr Beer. “There are residents who have been told Millbank is their home and now they need to go through the stress of being essentially evicted from that facility and placed into another. This will be a stressful time for both our members working in the industry and for the Bundaberg community more broadly.”

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Tags: awu, bluecare, Bundaberg Millbank Aged Care Facility, Tony Beers,

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