Aged care is the next big issue

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ANMF has launched an email campaign to pressure federal politicians to legislate nurse/carer to resident ratios in private and not-for-profit nursing homes.

The email is sent to Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt with copies sent to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and Opposition Ageing Spokesperson Julie Collins. Senator Derryn Hinch, who recently introduced an aged care ratios amendment bill into Federal Parliament, is also on the recipient list. 

Aged care nurses and personal carers should not have to fight for safe staffing levels to provide quality and dignified care to residents.

But they do because there are no rules, no laws and no regulations that ensure there are enough nurses and carers to safely care for people living in Australia’s private and not-for-profit nursing homes.

In 2003 there were 16,265 registered nurses employed in aged care for 149,232 residents and by 2016 this had dropped to 14,564 for 235,000 residents.

The absence of staffing rules means nursing home providers do not roster enough nurses and carers to provide residents with safe, quality and respectful care. Providers blame funding, yet they recorded a more than $1 billion profit in 2015-16.

Residential aged care providers were given $11.37 billion in federal funding in the last financial year, but they were not required to spend a specified amount on registered nurses.

This is because the 20-year-old Aged Care Act requires nursing home providers to maintain an ‘adequate’ number of skilled staff. ‘Adequate’ is unenforceable and undefined.

Evidence shows poor staffing levels lead to compromised resident care. This can mean a pressure sore or a skin tear is missed, a medication mistake is made, a therapy appointment is missed because two staff members are not available to use a hoist to move a resident, a resident loses too much weight, a resident is left in a wet bed or a resident falls and breaks their hip trying to get to the bathroom. It can also mean a person’s dignity and hope is lost. All of these consequences can shorten life.

Residents, their families and the nurses and carers are often too frightened to speak out about what is happening inside nursing homes. If they do, little or nothing changes. It is a national shame.

Let our political leaders know you will not let them continue to ignore inadequate care in our nursing homes.

Send a residents are at risk: Fix aged care staffing rules email now