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Why younger people should care about nursing homes

Why younger people should care about nursing homes

People aged in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and even sixties don’t want to think about ageing or the possibility of relying on others for their care.

Most residential aged care residents are aged between 85 and 94 years. So why should younger people care about nursing homes?

Because Victoria’s private nursing home staffing levels are unsafe, and your loved ones might need aged care or be living in aged care. And if you’re lucky, one day you will be old and might need aged care yourself.

When we say private nursing homes – we mean the not-for-profit ones too.

Nurses and personal care workers employed in privately owned nursing homes are critically understaffed on every shift. The staff are burnt out trying to provide quality care, particularly during the pandemic.

There are just not enough of them. And nursing home owners are always cutting staff hours.

Understaffing has serious implications for people’s nutrition and hydration, pressure sore care and prevention, safe medication, pain management, their mental health and even their ability to use the bathroom. It can contribute to premature death.

If residents are unhappy with their care, they can’t protest in the streets. Another reason you need to care.

The Federal Morrison Government regulates and funds residential aged care providing $13 billion each year. It doesn’t mandate or enforce safe staffing levels in private aged care.

There have been 655 COVID-19 related deaths in Victoria’s private residential aged care. 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 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.

Ratios work so well, the Victorian Andrews Government is pitching in $40 million to build 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.

ANMF launched the ‘One day it will be will all of us’ ad campaign in late November to prompt the general public to care about the impact of understaffing in Victoria’s privately owned and operated nursing homes.

What do we want you to do?

We’re not going to ask you to sign another petition – the time for that is over.

But we do want you to care – particularly if you are younger and old age is up to 60 years away.

Care about your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, your loved ones and all vulnerable nursing home residents who don’t have a voice.

If the Morrison Government thinks enough people care – they will have to protect residents’ safety by mandating safe minimum nurse/ carer to resident ratios.