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ANMF says report again highlights need for improved staffing levels in aged care

A report into the alarming number of preventable deaths in Australian nursing homes has again reinforced the urgent need for increased levels of highly-trained nurses to care for elderly residents, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), said today.

The report contains in-depth analysis of coronial investigations into nursing home deaths in seven main areas: Choking; Medications; Physical restraint; Resident to resident; Aggression; Suicide; Unexplained absence.  The report, ‘Recommendations for prevention of injury in residential aged care services’ by Monash University Professor Joseph Ibrahim, found that:

“Compounding this issue is the potential shortfall in the number of nurses allocated to meet residents’ clinical care needs.

“… personal care attendants, who make up most of the workforce in RACs are not equipped, able or empowered to fulfil the role as stewards of high quality care.”

Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said the ANMF was now examining the full 104 recommendations of the report, but said an initial observation was that it highlighted the urgent need for increased levels of highly-trained nurses and mandated nurse and carer to patient ratios.

“It’s just more evidence that there is a crisis in aged care,” Ms Thomas said today.

“As the report found, the current aged care workforce is dreadfully ill-equipped and that the chronic shortage of highly-trained nurses continues to compromise the level of care for elderly, vulnerable nursing home residents and is consequently resulting in preventable deaths.

“In fact, the ANMF’s own National Aged Care Staffing and Skills Mix Project has also confirmed this, with increasing numbers of episodes of missed care and our members working on the ground in aged care, telling us how that there’s inadequate numbers of nurses and carers to provide essential daily care for residents.

“The Minister for Aged Care must take notice. How much more evidence does he need to realise there’s a crisis in aged care? “It’s time the Federal Government steps-in and introduces mandated staffing levels as part of a better regulated sector – to ensure residents are protected.”