Could you get ready in the morning in six minutes? Most people wouldn’t be able to. But in aged care, it’s expected that staff get the residents ready in the morning in a mere six minutes.

That includes waking the elderly residents from bed, helping them to the toilet or changing their incontinence protection, getting them dressed and giving them any medications they take in the morning.

Canada’s largest private sector union, Unifor, has set the 6 minute challenge to bring attention to the challenges aged care workers face where they are required to get a large group of residents ready in the morning.

Last December, the union asked the public to document their attempt to get ready in six minutes on social media with the hashtag #6minchallenge.

And what was posted, were people’s amusing predicaments at six minutes.

“I woke up with my alarm got oriented brought my clothes to the bathroom took a pee put on deodorant brushed my teeth put on a bra and a shirt and 6 mins was up,” said Erinn Champigny, “[but] I don’t have on pants or underwear I haven’t brushed my hair or put on any make up.”

“No makeup, no coffee, no teeth brushing, no breakfast. I’m still in my onesie. I can’t imagine how seniors in care homes are supposed to do this in six minutes,” said Jennifer Moreau.

Hassan Yussuff attempted the challenge with his family – and when they got clocked off, they were all still brushing their teeth.

“This morning – total failure,” said Naureen Rizvi, “wasted one minute getting up, went to the washroom, then decided to put on coffee, came back to wash my face and brush my teeth and the timer went off. Impossible.”

Though it’s easy to see the humour in the situations people found themselves it – it’s not a laughing matter for aged care workers and the residents who have to go through this speedy process every day.

The campaign highlights the issues of understaffing in aged come homes around Canada – an issue that is similar to Australia.

The Reality of Being an Aged Care Worker

An anonymous aged care worker told CTV News that she was responsible for nine to ten resident and was expected to have them in the dining hall by 8am when she worked morning shifts.

“I was never in that dining room on time. If I was lucky, I’d be pushing it to be down there for 9am or 9:30am., I always felt rushed and I’m pretty sure the other girls do too.”

“When you have six minutes to get a single person ready, there’s no way you can get that person ready in a dignified way. There’s no way that person is feeling like themselves, feeling good about themselves,” said Morgan Kevill, who works in a hospital but spent part of her training in aged care, “it just feels so wrong.”

“If you’re 93 years old and you have dentures and you have a hearing aid and you need incontinence products and you don’t like to be rushed in the morning, it makes it really tough,” Ontario NDP Health Critic France Gelinas told CTV News.

Gelinas admits that she did try the 6 minute challenge – but wasn’t brave enough to post the results on social media.

“You need more courage than I have to post yourself brushing your teeth and brushing your hair in the morning. I may work up the courage but there’s no way I’m ready in six minutes,” she said.

“Let’s not kid ourselves. [Aged Care] is not sexy. It doesn’t grab people’s attention,” she said. “The Six Minute Challenge is really to bring it to the forefront.”

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