Ratios for aged care. Make them Law. Now.

Federal ANMF media release: Monday 19 March 2018

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ANMF sends a message to Federal politicians to protect Australia’s elderly.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), is sending a message to all federal politicians with a new public awareness campaign calling for staff ratios in aged care to be legislated as a matter of urgency – to protect vulnerable, older nursing home residents who are the victims of Australia’s crisis in aged care.

The voices of the campaign are people who are all involved in the aged care system. They include a registered nurse (RN), an assistant in nursing (AIN), a relative of a nursing home resident, a doctor working in the system, and a community supporter, who have come together to call on our politicians to fix aged care.

They describe how, in the absence of mandated ratios, dangerously low-levels of nurse and carer staffing continue to put the lives of the elderly at risk.

“When my husband went into aged care it was an absolute shock, I was quite horrified by what I saw. I saw a degree of neglect. The lack of staff amounts to abuse,” says Margaret, a widow whose husband was in a nursing home. 

“There’s not enough staff and it’s extremely stressful. Things are so much worse than people realise,” says Cherise, a registered aged care nurse, who also had her Grandmother in a nursing home.

“I feel like sometimes I am on a production line, you don’t get enough time to properly care for residents,” says Julie, an AIN working in aged care.

The campaign highlights how there are fewer and fewer nurses and carers to care for an increasing number of nursing home residents with increasingly complex medical needs.

  • From 2003 to 2016, there was a 13% reduction in trained nursing staff working full-time in aged care facilities;
  • Over the past 13 years there has been a 400% increase in preventable deaths in nursing homes, from falls, choking and suicides;
  • Nursing home residents are receiving 2 hours 50 minutes of care per day from nurses and carers, well below the 4hours 18 minutes they should be getting; and,
  • Some aged care providers are spending just $6.08 a day for each resident’s daily meals. 

All this, at a time when the profits of aged care providers continue to rise. The ANMF says this shows that the system is all about “profits before people.”
The media campaign commences with a series of TV commercials which air this morning coinciding with Federal Senators returning to Canberra today. Mobile billboards will also be circling Parliament House and moving throughout the city.

The ANMF is also supporting the actions of Senator Derryn Hinch, who has introduced a private member’s bill, the Aged Care Amendment (Ratio of Skilled Staff to Care Recipients Bill) 2017, and is calling on all political parties to support ratios for aged care.

Quotes attributable the A/Federal Secretary of the ANMF, Annie Butler:

“There are no actors involved in our campaign – our campaign’s voices belong to real people who are all living or working in aged care or have a relative in aged care. They want to send a strong message to our politicians, that there must be safe staffing in aged care because, without it, the care of the elderly continues to be compromised.

“Understaffing means that often just 1 registered nurse has to manage the care for sometimes over 100 residents on a night shift or that one carer has to feed, bathe, dress and mobilise 16 residents in less than an hour.

“Nurses and carers are struggling, they’re run off their feet. They are doing the best they can but they can’t provide the level of care they want to. It’s just not possible.

“It’s a national disgrace. It’s a crisis that shames us.

“Our aged care system has been ignored by governments for far too long.

“Australia has strict ratios for childcare, which is only fair and reasonable, but not for aged care. The result is a system where 1 registered nurse may be responsible for managing the care of more than 100 residents. How is this justifiable?

“While care for the elderly gets worse, taxpayer-funded providers increase their profits. Last year, owners of aged care facilities pocketed over $1billion in profits while cutting staff.

“It’s time elderly Australians get the care they deserve.

“Our politicians must stand up for elderly Australians and make ratios law now.”

ANMF media release authorised by Annie Butler, ANMF Acting Federal Secretary. 1/365 Queen St, Melbourne.

The ANMF, with over 268,500 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.

ANMF Federal Branch media inquiries: Richard Lenarduzzi 0411 254 390.