Budget a start, but aged care needs more

Award-winning Wagga aged care worker Kasey Howlett says budget pay rise just the start

Link here – TUESDAY’S budget announcement of a 15 per cent bump in salary for aged care workers is a good start, but much more needs to be done, according to one award-winning Wagga aged care worker. Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced that the increase would come into force from July 1, following a Fair Work decision last year, but Gumleigh Gardens aged care team leader Kasey Howlett said it should be just the start of recognising the hard work of the people inthe sector.

“Since the royal commission and COVID starting numbers are so low within the industry. And so we’re recruiting so hard, and there’s a lot of pressure coming down on us from the government,” she said. “Out of all the sectors of healthcare we’ve been most heavily scrutinised. And yet, we’re the lowest paid, and we have the lowest amount of training. “I think it’s great that we’re being recognised for what we do, but I believe that it should only be the beginning.”Despite the post-royal commission challenges in her industry, Ms Howlett loves the work and recently beat out hundreds to be recognised as an inaugural Humanetix HEART Award recipient for outstanding aged care work in Australia.

Ms Howlett is a dementia unit team leader and was nominated by the family of a long time resident, Helen Brougham.”Helen’s my little possum, that’s what I call her, she’s 98 … and when I came here she used to sleep all day,” she said. “So, I literally turned everything upside down and started her on this new schedule of separating all of her day to day activities and she actually can speak to her children on the phone now.”And she loves seeing us and one day she walked from her room right down to the front of the facility to open the door for her daughter. And I guess her family was shocked.”

Ms Howlett got her start in the industry by caring for her elderly grandparents which led to entering aged care professionally and ten years later it’s viewing her residents as family that sets her apart. She’ll do anything to make their lives better. “I refer to my residents as family. So I will always walk in and be like ‘hello family’,” she said. “I’ve been known to throw a Dolly Parton party at 8.30 in the morning on a Sunday. “I like taking care of people, it’s kind ofmy thing.”