Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

Aged care workers face sack for not having heat pack qualifications

Who is looking after the elderley? Photograph by Chris Loy

Who is looking after the elderly? Photograph by Chris Loy

Dozens of aged care workers nationwide stand to lose their jobs after the Federal Government ruled they are not actually qualified.

Under the ruling, aged care pain management clinics will have to replace exercise physiologist workers with more expensive physiotherapists to retain funding.

Their employers – a number of privately contracted companies – are appealing the decision.

“It’s very unfortunate for all involved and it’s very depressing to have to call so many people and tell them that they don’t have a job,” an unnamed employer said.

“We believe exercise physiologists are qualified to do this work. In accordance with the legislation – which require technical modalities including heat packs and [transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation] machines – they’re not qualified though.”

Debate centers on the Australian Association for Exercise and Sports Science exercise physiologist accreditation criteria not specifically listing pain management methods.

AAESS director Professor Steve Selig agrees that technically exercise physiologists are not qualified but said speculation the organisation is not supporting its members is “complete hogwash”.

“Yes, we haven’t built pain management into the accreditation scheme because no-one asked us too,” Professor Selig said.

Professor Selig said the treatments could easily be added to the criteria,  if AAESS were asked.

“The fast way is through the development of short courses, and we would accredit people for those courses,” Professor Selig said.

The clinics, funded according to the Aged Care Funding Instrument, focus on pain management using massage, hot and cold therapy and TENS machines.

The federal Department of Health and Ageing was unavailable for comment.