Jocelyn and Maria speak truth to power
Jocelyn Hofman, an RN in aged care, and Maria O’Neill, a retired aged care RN and honorary NSWNMA member, met with Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, to give him a firsthand account of how the sector is suffering.
‘I’m relieved that a major political leader is listening to our concerns in aged care.’
Jocelyn Hofman says she is encouraged by Anthony Albanese’s support for reform in aged care.
“He seems to know the issues surrounding aged care. He signed our pledge, which asks him to support 24/7 RNs in aged care facilities, minimum mandated care hours and the right skills mix, greater transparency in the system (which means Commonwealth funding is tied to care), and improved wages and conditions for staff.
“I’m relieved that a major political leader is listening to our concerns in aged care. With the federal election coming up, we really need a true leader who stands up for aged care residents and staff,” she said.
She says there is still a lack of political leadership to fix the sector nearly a year after the Royal Commission handed down its report.
“This current government is still dragging its feet on fixing aged care. It has proposed an RN for 16 hours in a 24-hour cycle. That means from 10.30pm there is no guaranteed RN on the floor. I worry about that. Who will assess the resident who has had a fall? Who will administer the pain relief? We still haven’t seen any transparency on where the extra money that the government committed to the sector is being spent. Residents and people who work on the floor are being neglected again.”
Jocelyn says the federal election – due to be held in the coming months – will be crucial for aged care.
“This will be a very significant election, because our aged care system is collapsing, and we need a government that will really take this issue seriously; we really need a leader who will take action. Our society is judged by the way we treat our vulnerable people, and this process needs to start from the top. Mr Albanese is the first leader of a major party who has committed to meaningful aged care reforms.
“We need to know where every member of parliament stands on aged care. We are all going to age. This election, I urge our NSWNMA members to vote wisely.”
Next step: implement the pledge
Maria O’Neill says it is great for the Leader of the Opposition to sign up to our aged care campaign goals, but the ALP now needs to turn that into action.
“I think he knows the issues, but Labor has talked the talk, but not walked the walk. Labor has promised reform but hasn’t done anything yet.
“I wanted to talk to him about the absurd situations in aged care. For example, towards the end of my working life, I saw one woman in aged care with heart failure admitted to hospital because there was no RN to take over her care when she went back to the nursing home. She spent six weeks in hospital. This was financially absurd, and it was inhumane, because she was on the edge of dementia and couldn’t really understand why she couldn’t go back to her home and why she was in this busy, crazy environment.
“An acute bed in a public hospital is not relaxing for anyone, let alone someone old and fragile. We know that people with heart failure, with correct medication and nutrition they can be stabilised. But people are not getting regularly assessed and their medicines titrated in aged care, which needs to be done by the RN on site.”
Maria says it is important that we get the rest of the ALP federal candidates to sign the pledge.
“When I receive letters from Labor candidates in my area asking for my support, I’ve written back listing the issues they need to listen to and fix. I say ‘I am happy to support you as soon as you do something about this’.
“I also think personal visits are a good thing. I think these kinds of actions are very useful to get politicians to focus on the issues.”
Maria says she finds the latest outbreak of COVID in aged care heartbreaking.
“I am hearing from women working on the aged care campaign about how the staff don’t have enough PPE. They are fighting to keep people safe. Access to RATs is going to be a huge issue, and we don’t have enough now.”
Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese signs the pledge to support reform in aged care:
- RN24/7 – at least one registered nurse on site at all times
- Minimum mandated care hours and the right skills mix
- Greater transparency – funding tied to care
- Improved wages and conditions