Carnell Report: All talk, no action on safe staffing levels

Thursday 26th October, 2017

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is disappointed that the Carnell Report acknowledges that inadequate staffing levels are compromising the care being provided to elderly nursing home residents, yet fails to deliver any real workforce solutions to fix the crisis in aged care.

ANMF Assistant Federal Secretary Annie Butler said although the Report includes some useful recommendations for improvements in the aged care sector, it simply does not go far enough in addressing the urgent need for mandated, safe staffing levels and skill mix in Australian nursing homes.

“Yet again, it’s all talk, no action,” Ms Butler said today.

“The Report acknowledges that the ‘lack of staff in nursing homes was a major contributor to the number of complaints around quality of care’ and that nurses and carers are overworked and suffering from low morale, with ‘strong support for mandatory staff ratios’.

“What’s disappointing is that despite all the evidence in front of it, the Report makes no recommendations on the urgent need for mandated staffing levels, and the importance of safe staffing levels in the provision of quality care for residents and their aged care experience.

“We know across the country, Australia’s aged care residents receive far less care than they should, on average – each resident is getting 90 minutes less care per day than they need. And the reason they are not getting the care they need is simply because there are not enough staff, there are not enough nurses and there are not enough carers.

“With no mandatory minimum staffing levels in aged care, it’s up to providers to determine what ‘adequate’ staffing levels are, and as we’ve seen, more and more operators aren’t choosing to employ enough staff.  At the same time, increasing fees are going to aged care providers directly from the pockets of elderly residents, which is why the ANMF insists that any new funding to the sector is tied to the provision of personal, nursing and clinical care. We do not support additional funding without accountability.

“We find it ironic that on the day the Carnell Report was released, almost 400 aged care nurses and carers from Victorian Bupa facilities attended the first statewide private rally against a for-profit aged care employer in Victoria, following an unprecedented 23 days of protected industrial action against the provider for not committing to safe staffing levels.

“From the ANMF’s perspective, the remedy for aged care is simple - the Government must introduce safe staffing legislation that guarantees that providers must use taxpayers’ money to provide proper, safe care for elderly residents by employing enough staff, rather than boosting their bottom line.

“No more talk, it’s time to act.”

The ANMF, with 270,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.  

ANMF media inquiries: 0411 254 390.