The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), welcomes Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s public acknowledgement of the urgent need for improved levels of nursing staff in the under-resourced aged care sector.
Interviewed on the ABC’s 7.30 last night, which followed two previous reports highlighting the “shocking” mistreatment of vulnerable residents at a number of nursing homes, operated by different providers, with the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner referring 532 cases to the Aged Care Quality Agency over the past 18 months, Mr Shorten said:
“I think any nation which treats old people in the manner in which your 7.30 report has revealed should be ashamed of itself. We need to do a lot better on it”.
And in the wake of the initial results of a new ANMF survey of aged care staff showing how an increasing number of providers are cutting the numbers of nurses and reducing care hours at nursing homes across the country, Mr Shorten remarked:
“When it comes to aged care facilities, no question in my mind, we need to make sure we have the right number of nurses on duty, are we getting the right training for people, are we charging too much in our TAFE to train people to do this vital work in the future?
“$2 billion was cut from aged care since the Liberals have been in. There is plenty to be done there to help make sure we get better standards. I think some of the large companies, who are reaping pretty big amounts out of the aged care bonds, and large companies found to not be doing the right thing, are not the solution in aged care.”
Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said ANMF members were encouraged by the Opposition Leader’s acknowledgement that there’s a crisis in aged care which has become a national disgrace.
“The Federal Government has yet to implement mandated nursing levels and care hours as part of a sustainable workforce strategy which provides elderly Australians with proper, safe care. There are no regulations in place to ensure that providers do the right thing,” Ms Thomas said today.
“That’s why the ANMF is pleased that Mr Shorten has acknowledged that we need to have the right number of nurses and skills mix and that the nursing home accreditation system must be examined, so we can stop elderly nursing home residents suffering, which has been exposed to the nation on the 7.30 reports this week, but which our members have been reporting to us for months as they increasingly struggle to cope.”
On Thursday, 10 August, Ms Thomas and the ANMF’s Assistant Federal Secretary Annie Butler will hold talks with Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt and Shadow Minister Julie Collins. On Tuesday 15 August, a “Rally for the Elderly” will be held in Bundaberg, where Blue Care may sack up to 11 nurses and dramatically cut the rostered hours of other registered and enrolled nurses at three of its Bundaberg facilities (Millbank; Pioneer; Riverlea).
The ANMF, with over 259,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.
ANMF media inquiries: 0411 254 390.