Independent MP Zali Steggall stood up in parliament and spoke in support of having RNs present 24/7 in aged care after hearing the reality at the front line from NSWNMA member Dymphna Ryan.
Aged care RN Dymphna Ryan recently spoke to her local member, Zali Steggall, the Federal MP for Warringah, about the desperate need for around-the-clock RNs in aged care.
After the meeting, Steggall made a speech in parliament supporting a motion by former nurse and Independent MP, Helen Haines, for mandated 24/7 RN care in all aged care facilities.
“Zali raised the issue of aged care and all the issues surrounding the royal commission into aged care,” said Dymphna.
“I spoke to her as a constituent in Warringah, and I informed her of the issues I’ve come up against as an RN working in aged care.”
Dymphna explained to the MP that while “many high-care nursing homes have RNs around the clock, low-care facilities can have RNs maybe five days a week on morning shift … there is usually never an evening RN or a night RN”.
“It is sad because I think a lot of people go to these places believing there are RNs looking after them. You have people who are diabetics, people in pain, people who need to be turned in the night; you still have the same set of illnesses to deal with as in high care.”
Dymphna explained to Zali how, when an RN is off duty, aged care patients can be sent to hospitals, which end up “jammed with patients that shouldn’t be there”.
She also explained how, when she began working in the system many years ago and there were RNs around the clock, there were not the same level of falls and urinary tract infections she sees today.
Dymphna thinks meeting with her local MP “opened her eyes” to the situation in aged care.
In her parliamentary speech, Zali Steggall said: “Just this week I met a local nurse working in aged care homes who detailed the continual staff shortages that have led to poor outcomes in the past, in the care of people.”
“Currently – and this is a little mind boggling – there is no minimum staffing requirement or skills mix in the legislation. Whilst we do it for so many other industries, it is really astounding that we are not doing it for our most vulnerable and elderly.”
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