On this International Nurses Day (IND) and Mother’s Day, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has welcomed Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s pledge to start taking action to improve the under-resourced aged care system in Australia, including the requirement for a Registered Nurse (RN) to be rostered on-site at all nursing homes, 24/7.
The ALP’s announcement follows the release of the ANMF’s national aged care survey last week, which revealed that 90% of nurses and carers were unable to ensure all residents received even basic care, such as feeding and toileting, because of inadequate staffing levels.
Mr Shorten announced that if it is elected, the ALP will work with the ANMF and key sector stakeholders to improve aged care and support the aged care workforce by committing to: increase the number of and access to home care packages and increasing staffing levels and skills; publish the skill mix of the aged care workforce employed at every nursing home and ensure the appropriate skills mix of properly-trained staff is on duty at all times; ensure there is an RN present, on site, at residential aged care facilities, 24 hours a day; immediately start work on the implementation of the Matter of Care workforce strategy to address understaffing; address the number of GPs working in aged care; and provide TAFE places for 20,000 aged care students.
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler commended Mr Shorten and the ALP for recognising the current crisis in aged care and their commitment to take immediate action.
“On IND this is positive news not just for hard-working nurses and carers in the aged care sector but for nurses working across the public hospital system,” Ms Butler said today.
“Nurses working in stretched emergency departments and acute hospitals, who see many presentations and admissions of older people to their services due to inadequate care, will welcome the start of action to reduce the load on the overburdened public hospital system. And nurses and carers working in aged care will, I think, be almost in disbelief that a Government, if the ALP is elected, will actually start acting to address the crisis situation they are in.
“Years of inaction from Governments and lack of responsibility from far too many aged care providers have resulted in an aged care workforce that is at breaking point. Aged care nurses and carers are completely demoralised by what they’re forced to put up with, including being unfairly targeted and blamed for the ongoing systemic failures of a sector in crisis.
“It’s time that the people who are actually responsible for the aged care sector and the quality of the service it delivers took responsibility for its failures. That’s why we’re welcoming this announcement and why nurses and carers are heartened that the ALP recognises we don’t need to wait until the Royal Commission is over to start taking desperately needed action in aged care. There will still be much work to do, such as guaranteeing safe staffing levels and ensuring transparency for all Government funding for the sector to make sure tax payers’ money is used for the direct care of residents.
“We will continue to work with the Royal Commission as needed to achieve that. But today’s announcement is a welcome start for ANMF members.
“We must take action to end the misery in aged care – vulnerable, elderly Australians and their families, and the nurses that care for them, deserve a Government that will start now.”