NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) representatives met at Fairview Retirement Village on Friday as part of a nation-wide campaign to tackle chronic understaffing and its attendant issues in aged care facilities.
Thousands of nurses across the country joined rank on International Nurses Day last Satuday to pressure the Federal Goverment to make aged care ratios law.
“Aged care in Australia is in crisis. Over the last 13 years, chronic understaffing has seen a 400% increase in preventable deaths of elderly Australians in residential aged care, with hundreds dying from falls, choking and suicide,” NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes said.
Mr Holmes put forward evidence that highlighted the need for mandated nurse-to-patient ratios on the back of a public hearing into the Inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities. The hearing identified nurse shortages and inadequate reporting of incidents as serious endemics. It was revealed, each factor led to unsafe conditions in many aged care facilities.
“Under staffing is resulting in nurses having to look after more and more patients every shift. This is not safe for overworked nurses and it is not safe for residents,” Mr Holmes said.
“Last year, owners of aged care facilities racked up over $1 billion in profits, while aged care residents receive one and a half hours less care than they should, every day. It is imperative the Federal Government put forward legislation to ensure the $2.17 billion in government subsidies given to these for-profit providers is spent directly on their care.”
The meeting at Fairview will bring to the foreground the need to address systemic problems within the aged care industry after little progress has been made from six inquiries into the nation-wide sector over the past 18 months.
“While we welcome an increase in aged care funding for home care in the 2018-19 Federal Brudget, it is deeply disappointing to see nothing set aside for staffing ratios in residential aged care,” Mr Holmes said.
“Aged care nurses, residents and their families have waited a very long time for action. There is more than enough evidence pointing to the need for more nurses and a staffing methodology that acknowledges skill mix. We’re asking all federal politicians to stop ignoring the staffing crisis in aged care and commit to supporting roles.”