Aged care questions answered
The NSWNMA has produced a series of leaflets to help consumers navigate their way through the complex process involved when transitioning a loved one into residential aged care.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association has joined forces with doctors’ organisations, and with aged care experts and advocates, to produce a series of leaflets to help consumers navigate an increasingly complex aged care system and choose an aged care facility wisely.
“As the aged care sector moves further down the path of a consumer-led care model, we are hopeful the 10 Questions series will assist consumers to ask the right questions when looking for suitable care,” said the General Secretary of NSWNMA, Brett Holmes.
Although elderly people entering residential aged care facilities now are older, frailer and have more complex care needs, the NSW government is introducing changes to the aged care sector that are reducing staffing levels and the skills mix in residential facilities.
“Last year the State Government stated their intention to remove longstanding protective legislation that requires a registered nurse on site at all times. This is despite contradicting evidence from an inquiry into registered nurses in NSW nursing homes,” Brett said.
“We heard evidence from clinical experts and community advocates about care failures arising from the absence of registered nurses from residential aged care and of the impact on the public health system due to inappropriate hospital admissions.”
Doctors and Carers Australia NSW are partners
There are six leaflets in the series, covering topics on staffing, GP services, culturally specific needs, palliative care, contracts and fees, and facilities and lifestyle in aged care facilities. More leaflets are currently being produced including on LGBTI and dementia care.
They have been developed by the NSWNMA in partnership with a number of organisations, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners NSW Faculty, the NSW Cancer Council and Carers Australia NSW, to name just a few.
Each leaflet contains ten questions to ask before choosing residential aged care, such as: What additional costs can I be charged beyond my basic fee? What right do I have to be served food specific to my culture or to attend religious events relevant to me? How many staff are rostered on at any one time and what are their qualifications? What are the rules around visitors? What is the approach to palliative care?
“Navigating the process of transitioning a loved one into a residential aged care facility anywhere in New South Wales is no simple task and is often compounded by raw emotion,” Brett said.
Arming consumers with knowledge, an understanding of their rights, and the ability to ask the right questions is an important step in improving standards in the aged care sector, Brett said.