Aged care nurses and carers converge on Canberra
Aged care workers from across Australia converged on Parliament House, Canberra, today (16 March) calling on the country’s decision makers to use the upcoming Federal Budget to urgently reform the understaffed and under-resourced aged care sector.
The 25-strong delegation from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and the United Workers Union (UWU) included registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers, concerned that elderly Australians living in nursing homes need action from government now, on critical reforms to get the safe, quality care they need and deserve.
The final report of the aged care Royal Commission recognised that far too many have suffered because of the long standing systemic failings of the aged care sector and identified unacceptably low levels of staffing as the key contributor to substandard care across the system, concluding that:
‘There are many ingredients that enable the provision of high quality and safe aged care, but it cannot be achieved without the sector having enough staff with the skills and time to care’.
With almost 60% of residents in nursing homes experiencing an unacceptably low level of staffing, the report recommended ‘staffing ratios should be introduced to ensure that there are sufficient nursing and other care staff present at all times in residential aged care’. This means guaranteeing enough nurses and care workers to provide high quality and safe, person-centred care.
Aged care worker Sue from Queensland said: “The aged care system was in crisis well before COVID-19. The system is underfunded, understaffed and the workload is impossible.”
Aged care worker Zelda from South Australia said: “Older Australians are not being kept safe in aged care. They are left upset and confused by a revolving door of aged care workers because of insecure jobs and casualisation.”
The aged care nurses and carers are seeking urgent meetings with Prime Minister Scott Morrison; advisors for Minister for Health Greg Hunt; Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck; Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack; the Labor caucus; Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese; shadow ministers Mark Butler, Clare O’Neill and Ged Kearney; the Greens and key Crossbenchers, urging for mandated staffing ratios to be included in the May Budget.
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said: “Our politicians must come together and act now on the Royal Commission’s recommendation that providers meet a minimum staff time quality and safety standard which guarantees all health and care needs of older Australians are met.
“We’re calling on the Prime Minister to guarantee that residents receive the safe, dignified care they deserve, by introducing mandated staffing levels and skill mixes in nursing homes as a matter of urgency – reform can’t wait. More delays mean more suffering for older Australians.”
UWU aged care director Carolyn Smith said: “Aged care workers are saying they have had enough with delays, buck-passing and report after report.
“Politicians need to understand the cost of doing nothing, or doing too little, is paid by older Australians who do not get the care or safety they desperately need.
“The demands of aged care workers have been endorsed by hundreds of aged care workers in mass meetings last week, and we have been visiting politicians to make it very clear what they want.”
ANMF-UWU joint media release authorised by Annie Butler, ANMF Federal Secretary. 1/365 Queen St, Melbourne.