The New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has joined a national campaign to fight for ratios in aged care, which will enforce guaranteed staff ratios and mandated nursing and care hours for each resident.
The Association represents the industrial interests of 63,000 nurses and midwives employed in NSW in the public, private, aged care and disability sectors.
A spokesperson said, “Over the last 13 years, chronic understaffing has seen a 400 per cent increase in preventable deaths of elderly Australians in aged care with hundreds dying from falls, choking and suicide.
“They are our parents and grandparents, people who looked after us and loved us, but now many of them, especially those in need of high care, are left unfed, unwashed and even in soiled nappies for hours.
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“Hard-pressed nurses and care staff do the best they can in impossible circumstances, but they are run off their feet and can’t provide the care they want to.
“Currently residents receive around two hours 50 minutes of care per day from nurses and carers, which is nowhere near enough time to shower, toilet, medicate, dress, feed, roll over, move, let alone talk to an aged care resident. Research shows a minimum of four hours’ care is required.
“We need a skills mix of 30 per cent registered nurses, 20 per cent enrolled nurses and 50 per cent assistants in nursing.
“There is an urgent need for a staffing methodology that considers both staffing levels (the right number) and skills mix (the right qualification) for residential aged care across the country. About 30 per cent of that should be provided by RNs, 20 per cent enrolled nurses and 50 per cent assistants in nursing.
“Last year, owners of aged care facilities racked up over $1billion in profits while cutting staff. It’s a crisis that shames us. Our aged care system has been ignored by governments for far too long. We need to give our loved ones the care they deserve and make aged care ratios law, now.
“There is strength in numbers so if you’re a nurse or midwife, join the NSWNMA to improve our health and aged care systems for patients and residents. Together we can work towards improving our industry and make it a better place to work.”