The Morrison Government has responded to the ANMF (Vic Branch) call for mandated staffing ratios in nursing homes by reiterating the Aged Care Act’s vague requirement for ‘adequate’ staff numbers.
In a letter to the ANMF (Vic Branch), Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt acknowledged our concerns about staffing levels in aged care facilities. However, Mr Wyatt described the relationship between staffing and care quality as ‘complex’.
‘It is the responsibility of individual homes to use government subsidies to ensure they have the type and numbers of staff they require to ensure care recipients receive high quality care,’ Mr Wyatt wrote.
In May 2018 ANMF launched a national campaign for legislated staffing ratios in residential aged care. At the launch ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the aged care crisis must be fixed ‘because a carer cannot continue to wash, feed, mobilise 16 residents in just 45 minutes and because a registered nurse cannot continue to manage the total care of more than 70 residents, or more than 100, or as happens in some states, more than 200 residents.’
Victorian Branch Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said at the campaign launch that the introduction of legislated ratios into the Victorian public healthcare system had ensured better, safer care ‘and no-one deserves that more than the people who have served this country (and) paid their taxes for decades.’
Mr Wyatt’s letter said the Morrison Government supports ‘greater transparency around the services providers deliver in aged care’. He said service providers were able to upload information about staffing levels and skills mix onto the My Aged Care platform.
ANMF (Vic Branch)’s survey of members working in residential aged care found that:
- 48 per cent of registered nurses were responsible for between 50-100 residents in the afternoons 46 per cent were responsible for 50-100 residents at night.
- Nearly a third of registered nurses were responsible for 100-150 residents at night.
- Over 60 per cent of respondents said that in the past week a resident’s medication was late, early or missed due to lack of staff
- 57 per cent said someone had waited longer than 30 minutes to be assisted
- 45 per cent said a resident’s wound care had been missed.
- 43 per cent said that in the last two years nursing and personal care hours had been reduced in their workplace.
ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said international research into the impact of ratios on patient care had shown a straightforward relationship.
‘Ratios improve patient care – it’s that simple,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said. ‘Through no fault of our hardworking nurses and personal care workers, the aged care system is failing our elderly and vulnerable in nursing homes.
‘Private aged care providers have demonstrated they will continue to take millions in government subsidies but are not spending it on employing the staff needed to provide proper care to residents.’