Southern Cross Care Queensland's Illoura.
Southern Cross Care Queensland's Illoura. Matthew Newton

Aged care cuts in Chinchilla and Taroom

SOUTHERN Cross Care's Illoura and Leichhardt Villa nursing homes in Chinchilla and Taroom have slashed hundreds of hours from their fortnightly staff rosters in a bid to cut costs.

The cuts came into effect yesterday in Chinchilla and extend right across Southern Cross Care Queensland's network.

The Catholic charity operates 11 residential care properties across the state.

At Illoura alone, 518 hours have been cut from the fortnightly roster - a move the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union claims will affect the quality of care residents receive.

A further 108 nursing hours have been cut from Leichhardt Villa in Taroom, according to the union.

Staff are now wondering how they will make ends meet, with many only receiving 16 hours of work - two shifts - a fortnight.

Union regional team leader Auriel Robinson said Southern Cross Care Queensland executives announced the cuts to staff at an "emotionless” meeting at Illoura on May 30.

"The toe-cutters came up and gave a very callous, emotionless account of why there's going to be hours cut and (staff) got told when they leave the room the care manager at the back has a letter for them,” she said.

"They get their letters, leave the room, open them and they're distraught.

"There's tears, they don't know how they're going to pay their mortgages.”

SCCQ acting chief executive officer Scott Wilson was contacted for comment but declined to be interviewed.

In a statement provided to Chinchilla News, SCCQ chief of integrated services delivery Vicki Eckart said that as a charitable organisation, "Southern Cross Care is not burdened by the need for profit, however the sustainability of the vital service provided demands that the organisation is run efficiently”.

"The aged care sector is constantly evolving and Southern Cross Care must evolve with it to ensure best practice in service delivery and efficiency.”

SCCQ made a profit of $6million in the previous financial year, consisting of an operating profit of $1.7million and $4.3million attributed to a fair gain in assets. Ms Robinson said she and her union members held concerns for the quality of care residents would receive into the future as a result of the cuts.

"Nobody is sitting around on their laurels in aged care... Our members are saying to us they are concerned about residents,” she said.

"They don't now how they're going to continue to provide the care they deem is necessary from a care point of view but also from hospitality with cuts to the kitchen and cleaning staff - that work has still got to be done by somebody.”

Ms Robinson said it was important to note the cuts were not a reflection on the facility managers at the nursing homes.

"These facility managers at these places, some of them are absolutely distraught they've had to be part of this for their staff,” she said.

"It's not the facility managers on-site that have made these decisions, it's the executive of Southern Cross.

"Having sat through some of these presentations myself, they're very cold, very callous and don't seem to show any compassion toward the staff at all.

"(The executives) say 'this will be the worst day'. Well, for our members, (when they got their letter) is not the worst day. It's a shock, but in six weeks time when they're struggling to pay their mortgage or their car's getting repossessed, this is the start of a very traumatic time for them.

"They have no empathy for their staff and I think they need to revisit some of these cuts.”

Southern Cross Care's statement said the organisation was analysing and realigning staffing rosters across all its residential aged care facilities to ensure the organisation was providing uniform best-practice levels of care with a sustainable level of efficiency.

SCCQ's Vicki Eckart said the charity was "working with our loyal staff to ensure we minimise the impact on them and we sincerely regret any hardship this necessary realignment may cause”.

"In some towns, Southern Cross Care is the only aged care provider and we owe it to our communities to ensure we can survive into the future and continue to deliver our vital service to older Queenslanders,” MsEckart said.

"As a charitable organisation, our whole mission is to value and respect human life and we are determined to look after our older Queenslanders, particularly in areas that are not serviced by the for-profit sector.”

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