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New campaign asks community to care about nursing homes

New campaign asks community to care about nursing homes

One day it will be all of us.

A new ANMF (Vic Branch) television and social media campaign asks the Victorian community to care about understaffing in nursing homes.

The ‘One day it will be all of us’ advertisement, launched in late November, shows a young woman ageing as she questions why she should care about understaffing in nursing homes.

The Victorian COVID-19 outbreak has put the public spotlight on the consequences of understaffing in private residential aged care like never before.

There have been 1983 COVID-19 cases in Victoria’s residential aged care and 655 COVID-19 related deaths. These facilities don’t provide details about their staffing levels but typically only have one registered nurse in a management role, not direct care, for often 90 or more residents.

There were three cases in Victoria’s public residential aged care services and no COVID-19 related deaths in Victorian Government run public aged care facilities. These facilities have state legislated ratios of one nurse to seven residents, plus a nurse in charge, in the morning, one nurse to eight residents, plus a nurse in charge, in the afternoon and one nurse to 15 residents overnight.

The Federal Morrison Government regulates residential aged care and provides the sector with $13 billion each year. Despite receiving an extra $1.5 billion during the pandemic, Victorian private aged care providers continued to cut staff and hours.

Nurses and personal care workers employed in privately owned nursing homes both for profit and not for profit, are critically understaffed on every shift. The staff are burnt out trying to provide quality care, particularly during the pandemic.

This is not news to ANMF members, but it is often a surprise to members of the general public who wrongly assume there would be mandated nursing levels in nursing homes and  accountability for how billions in taxpayer funding is spent.

ANMF and its members continue to educate the community that understaffing has serious implications for people’s nutrition and hydration, pressure sore care and prevention, safe medication, pain management, their mental health and their ability to use the bathroom. It can contribute to premature death.

As part of the 2020-21 budget announced in November, the Andrews Government will invest $40 million in building the nursing and personal care workforce if the Morrison Government accepts and funds recommendations from the aged care royal commission to introduce ratios in private aged care. The final report and recommendations are due in February 2020.

Find out more about the ANMF’s national campaign to protect nursing home residents by making nurse/ carer ratios law.