The Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Annie Butler, has given evidence to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in Adelaide today, explaining how the systemic sub-standard and inadequate care provided to vulnerable nursing home residents can be addressed by the implementation of mandated staffing ratios and skills mix. This will fix the crisis in aged care.
In her witness statement, Ms Butler told the Royal Commission:
a. The problems in the aged care sector are well known, well documented and a matter of increasing national disquiet and concern. The ANMF has over many years drawn attention to the shortcomings in the system, highlighting to governments, regulatory bodies, key stakeholders, the media and the community critical issues related to the quality of care delivery.
b. The shortcomings and instances of inadequate care are not isolated, they are not exceptional but reflect systemic problems in the structure of the aged care system, including: inappropriate regulation of the sector; a lack of responsiveness to the changing needs of Australia’s ageing population; and, a lack of transparency and accountability across the sector.
c. The legitimate expectations of those in receipt of residential care, their families and the community to receive safe, quality care can be met by the provision of safe nursing care (including personal care) delivered by best practice;
d. Staffing models, which are underpinned by an evidence-based methodology to ensure the provision of adequate numbers of appropriately qualified staff, are fundamental to meeting the needs of residents and the high standards of quality and safety in aged care services of which the Commission’s terms of reference speak. Mandated minimum staffing levels and skill mixes are necessary.
e. The funding and regulatory regime applying to the system must be directed to ensuring that adequate numbers of appropriately qualified staff, in accordance with an evidence-based staffing model, are available to deliver care.
f. The ANMF has developed an evidence-based staffing methodology that if adopted will, in our view, deliver the levels of safe, best practice care in residential aged care facilities expected by the community.
Ms Butler added that current funding arrangements for aged care were unsatisfactory. They encourage perverse outcomes and fail to direct funding and the accountability of that funding to direct care.