Chronic understaffing in nursing homes is leaving thousands of elderly Australians unfed, unwashed or even in soiled pads for hours because there’s simply not enough staff.
The Andrews Government has legislated ratios in Victorian public sector nursing homes. Now the Federal Government should do the same in private and not-for-profit nursing homes.
Over the last 13 years, chronic understaffing has seen a 400% increase in preventable deaths of elderly Australians in aged care with hundreds dying from falls, choking and suicide.
Hard-pressed nurses and carers do the best they can in impossible circumstances, but they are run off their feet and can’t provide the care they want to.
And while they struggle because there is simply not enough of them, last year*, owners of aged care facilities racked up over $1 billion in profits while cutting staff.
This is unacceptable.
Australia has strict staff ratios for childcare, which is as it should be. But apart from Victorian public sector nursing homes, there are no ratios for aged care and no laws to ensure our elderly get the care they need in private and not-for-profit nursing homes.
They are our parents and grandparents, people who looked after us and loved us, but now many of them, especially those in need of high care, are left unfed, unwashed and even in soiled pads for hours.
It’s a crisis that shames us. Our aged care system has been ignored by governments for far too long.
There's an urgent need for staff ratios in aged care.
Currently residents are receiving around 2 hours 50 minutes of care per day from nurses and carers, which is nowhere near enough time to shower, toilet, medicate, dress, feed, roll over, move, let alone talk to an aged care resident.
The evidence shows residents should be receiving a minimum of 4 hours 18 minutes of care per day - one and a half hours more than they are getting now.
Join us to take action
The upcoming May budget and federal election is our chance to get the government to take action and make ratios law. If you haven't already joined the campaign, join the thousands of supporters across Australia by:
If you are an aged care nurse or carer there are also two things you can do now:
The ABC is investigating aged care in Australia. You can give your important input by filling in the short survey or emailing your story directly to email@example.com. Your information will be treated as strictly confidential, you will not be identified and nothing you tell the ABC will be used without your permission.
- The Department of Health – Aged Care Policy Reform Branch's is surveying aged care workers about how you feel about working in the sector in order to inform the development of their in the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce strategy. Your responses will remain confidential and be de-identified in the final report. Please fill in the survey before midnight Sunday 15 April.
Ratios for aged care. Make them law. Now.
*that all indications from major for-profit and non-profit company reports continue to show further increases in profitability in the 2016-17 financial year.