Aged care workers cannot replace nurses

Saturday 8th September, 2012

Australia’s largest health and aged care union, the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF), has called on the Federal Government to rule out any plans that would result in cooks, cleaners and other non nursing personnel performing the clinical duties of nurses in nursing homes.

The ANF was responding to media reports claiming staff such as cleaners could carry out basic health checks as part of a new $10.2 million funding project to train care workers throughout Australia’s under  resourced aged care sector.

“We are extremely concerned by any plans to fill the shortage of highly qualified nurses with non clinical staff,” ANF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said today.

“Cleaners and other aged care support staff can never perform the roles and responsibilities of registered, enrolled nurses and assistants in nursing (AINs) in delivering quality care to older people living in nursing homes.

“We are calling on the Minister for Ageing Mark Butler to urgently provide further details to our State and Territory members working in the aged care sector on how this project will be implemented.

“Furthermore, the Minister must guarantee that unqualified staff will never be called upon to undertake any clinical duties carried out by aged care nurses and AINs.

“Whilst the ANF welcomes the Government’s recent funding aimed at developing a new aged care workforce, we maintain the only real way of addressing the critical shortage of 20,000 aged care nurses is to pay them what they deserve and ensure a skilled workforce is available in sufficient numbers.

“Currently, aged care nurses on average are paid between $168 and $300 a week less than their colleagues working in public hospitals.

“Unless the wages gap is closed, there is little chance of nurses being recruited and then retained in aged care.”

The ANF, with over 220,000 members, is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.

Media Contact: Richard Lenarduzzi at The Premier Communications Group 0411 254 390