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Older Victorians will benefit from Andrews Government investment

Older public hospital patients and more than 5000 residents living in Victoria’s public nursing homes and residential aged care wards will benefit from a $1.1 million specialist training boost for registered and enrolled nurses.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Vic Branch) has welcomed the Andrews Government’s announcement to provide public sector nurses short training courses to better identify, and manage, a range of complex physical and mental health issues commonly experienced by older people.

The ANMF (Vic Branch) will facilitate the funded training to around 800 public sector aged care registered and enrolled nurses from September.

La Trobe University will deliver the three-day ‘Comprehensive health assessment of older people’ program.

The program will benefit nurses and their patients and residents across the state in residential aged care services, multi-purpose services, aged persons mental health residential care units, geriatric evaluation units and interim care programs including sub-acute units, transitional care and maintenance care.

Seventy-five per cent of the training program will be delivered to nurses working in regional Victoria.

Victorian Ageing Minister Martin Foley made the announcement earlier today as he turned the first sod for the development of a new $55.7 million state-of-the-art public aged care facility in Kew. The 90-bed facility, which will include 30 geriatric-mental health beds, is the first significant government investment in aged care in more than a decade.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said “On 14 October 2014, the community joined ANMF members on the steps of parliament, fighting the Liberal Government’s privatisation of public nursing homes.

“Daniel Andrews committed on that day to build a stronger Victorian public aged care sector, and today we are growing the workforce and building a new public nursing home.

“The training program will provide significant support to nurses working with older patients and nursing home residents and will improve their treatment and clinical care,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“We’re thrilled the Andrews Government is investing in its Victorian nursing workforce to meet the increasing acuity in nursing home residents and older people who commonly have multiple health issues,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“While aged care nurses and carers across Australia are campaigning for ratios law to end unsafe understaffing in private and not-for-profit nursing homes, which is the responsibility of the Turnbull Government, we have the Andrews Government investing in more staff and further developing their skills,” she said.

“I urge anyone looking for a nursing home for their loved one to ask what the nurse/ carer to resident ratios are for every shift before they sign anything.

“We again welcome the Andrews Government’s leadership in health, first by legislating minimum nurse to resident ratios in Victoria’s public nursing homes in 2015, then proposing to improve them and now investing in specialist training so they can provide better health care to older Australians,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

ANMF welcomes the partnership with La Trobe University, one of Australia’s leading teaching and research universities, which will design and deliver the training and ANMF (Vic Branch) will ensure smooth administration of the training including booking, registration and delivery of the training.

Nurses will be able to access information about the training soon through the ANMF Education Centre and website, their workplaces and Department of Health and Human Services networks.

Aged care staffing levels background

Victoria’s Safe Patient Care Act 2015 (page 12 and 13). Victoria has legislated ratios in public nursing homes and residential aged care wards which are:

  • Morning shift: 1 nurse: 7 residents, plus one nurse in charge
  • Afternoon shift: 1 nurse: 8 residents, plus one nurse in charge
  • Night shift: 1 nurse: 15 residents

This applies to approximately 5200 Victorians.

Staffing in private and not-for-profit nursing homes is regulated by the federal Residential Aged Care Act 1997

The Aged Care Act 1997 (see Part 4.1 Quality of care, page 252) has one line that states the approved provider has a responsibility ‘to maintain an adequate number of appropriately skilled staff to ensure that the care needs of care recipients are met’. Adequate and appropriately skilled are both undefined and unenforceable.

This applies to approximately 48,000 Victorians.