Aged care nurses call for urgent reform

With the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety delivering its final report to the Federal Government today, aged care nurses and carers are speaking up about the systemic issues plaguing the sector and need for urgent reform.

Activist group GetUp, who is lobbying for aged care reform, says more than 500 people have contacted them to share their experiences of the aged care sector and its shortcomings. Stories have included people going days without food, sanitation or medical care; residents being served expired food; and nurses and staff trying to provide quality care in a system that sets them up to fail.

Suzanna, an aged care registered nurse from NSW who has worked in the sector for 40 years, said the sector has been in need of reform for decades.

“The main problem is federal governments, past and present, giving large amounts of money to private operators and not overseeing where that money is actually spent. Private concerns do not and have never had rigorous standards that are actually maintained,” she said.

Suzanna says she has witnessed some “awful” conditions during her time working in the sector, including the basics not being provided to ensure nurses can properly care for residents, as well as unsafe workloads.

Suzanna says urgent reform is needed, calling on the Federal Government to take action.

“I believe that after the Royal Commission, the Federal Government and aged care departments across the country need to enact proper staffing, less rorting of aged care subsidies, and provide better and safer care for our elderly population.”

GetUp’s National Director, Paul Oosting, praised aged care nurses and people with loved ones in the system who had contacted the organisation to share their stories and highlight the need for major reform.

“After years of successive governments neglecting and defunding our aged care sector, pushing it into the hands of greedy corporate providers, thousands of Australians have horror stories of their own. It’s become an all too common hallmark of a sector that’s supposed to take care of people in need,” he said.

“Over the coming months, GetUp members will be watching how [the Morrison Government] responds to the Royal Commission. They want to see real reform – including fixing the staffing crisis and ensuring transparency in funding.

“Prime Minister Morrison must seize the moment and make reform of the aged care sector a top priority. We can’t afford to let this shameful neglect of aged care residents go on any longer.”

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