ANMF audit of aged care facilities reveals alarming trend of understaffing and missed care

Tuesday 25th September, 2018

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian Branch (ANMF) performed a random audit of members working at five facilities on the eastern shore yesterday afternoon in the lead up to the final episode of ABC Four Corner’s investigation into aged care in Australia.

“The audit of members at five facilities in Julie Collins electorate on the eastern shore, revealed some shocking results that we have been hearing from members for a number of years in regard to ratios, safe patient care, rationing of basic care and hygiene items, and long waiting times,” said ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary Emily Shepherd.

“Results from the audit showed that of the five facilities targeted, only one of those provided more than one hour of care to its residents over the afternoon shift – a shift that normally runs from 2pm to 11pm.  The number of care hours provided by the other four well known facilities ranged from approximately 30 minutes to 50 minutes of direct patient care during this period,” said Ms Shepherd.

“During this period staff are expected to provide adequate care to residents including; medication administration, assistance at meal times, assistance with preparing for bed including hygiene needs, toileting, pressure area prevention care, monitoring and identifying the risk of a fall, documentation for the residents, and social interactions with residents.”

“It is little wonder that proper care is being missed and concerned family are taking matters into their own hands. Staff are under resourced and over worked due to providers putting profits before care and it is our elderly who are suffering as a result.”

“Four of the facilitates surveyed last night reported having locked dementia units. These are high care units, however our audit showed that staffing in these areas was severely lacking. One facility reported that they had no registered nurses or enrolled nurses rostered on and that two care workers were rostered over 2 shifts to manage the 12 patients,” said Ms Shepherd.

“To those in the community who question that the situation is as dire as the Four Corners series presented, this is the daily reality and it is time that we call out the systematic mistreatment and neglect of our elderly Australians by some aged care providers”

“It is heartbreaking to see that all surveyed members reported that staffing levels at their facilities were not adequate. At all five of the facilities surveyed they reported that rationing of basic care items like pads were limited to three per patient per day. They further reported that they were unable to provide the care that they wanted and were required to, due to poor staffing,” said Ms Shepherd.

“Members reported that staffing levels had led directly to pressure injuries in residents due to there not being enough time to reposition residents as often as needed, and that residents needed to wait longer than they should for assistance or help. Further, members also reported that medications were delayed or missed due to time constraints on staff.”

“The ANMF audit is evidence of the disturbing treatment of vulnerable aged care residents who are not being recognised by our government or industry regulators. Continued warnings from the ANMF, our members, concerned family and industry have fallen on deaf ears.”

“Despite the announcement of a Royal Commission into aged care, we continue to hear from nurses, care workers, and consumers of dangerously low staffing levels which are resulting in neglect -  we need the government to act immediately and implement minimum staffing ratios to resolve this dire situation and treat our elderly with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said Ms Shepherd.

Today the ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary Emily Shepherd delivered to the Hon Julie Collins MP her own personal aged care hamper to highlight the realities versus the promises of aged care facilities. The ANMF are calling on Julie Collins to pledge her support to our national campaign to make ratios law NOW! and protect our elderly.

“It is disappointing that to date Julie has not agreed to pledge her support for the ANMF campaign to see ratios legislated despite the fact that the facilities surveyed in her own electorate cite poor staffing as the reason for not being able to provide safe and quality resident care,” said Ms Shepherd.

“The ANMF today have welcomed the support of Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent Member for Denison, to the ratios campaign. The ANMF and our members are buoyed by this support and acknowledgement that ratios and safe staffing are the foundation of safe and quality care provision to aged care residents. The ANMF will be seeking the support of all federal politicians as part of this campaign in the lead up to the Royal Commission and Federal Election.”