Let nurses fix aged care

Monday 31st May, 2010

The Australian Nursing Federation Assistant Secretary Lee Thomas said newly emerged claims of nursing home neglect highlighted the importance of continued government reform in the aged care sector.

"Reform has begun, but these disturbing allegations are a harsh reminder that it is imperative Australia acts quickly to protect its most vulnerable citizens," Ms Thomas said.

"We need enough staff with the right skills to look after residents, many of who have complex needs. We also need to pay aged care nurses competitive wages in order to encourage them to remain or enter the aged care sector.”

Ms Thomas said while there were some calls for more doctors in aged care, this was not the complete answer.

“It’s nurses who look after frail elderly residents. Nurse practitioners and registered nurses can offer a range of health management and procedural services to patients in a fast and effective manner that is greatly beneficial. Let’s attract and retain this highly valuable workforce.”

The ANF has been pursuing the Because We Care campaign to improve wages and conditions in aged care including improvement in staffing numbers and licensing of all workers in the sector.

“Many nursing homes have only one nurse for every 30 residents. In some cases it’s worse with one nurse for every 60 or 90 residents. And this situation is only going to worsen,” she said.

"The current reforms are very welcome and we applaud the federal government's commitment so far, however there is still a long way to go to complete the reform."

"We need the right number of staff with the right skills so that there are enough nurses and personal care assistants to look after each and every resident."