The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has promised to start taking action to improve the current crisis in aged care, including increasing staffing levels and skill mix and ensuring there is a registered nurse (RN) on duty 24/7, if elected at this Saturday’s federal election.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten released a statement yesterday outlining Labor’s plans to improve aged care by working with the sector and unions including the ANMF.
If elected, Labor will work with the ANMF and key stakeholders to:
- Fast-track the implementation of the Matter of Care workforce strategy to address inadequate staffing
- Ensure there is an RN present on site at residential aged care facilities 24/7
- Publish the skill mix of the aged care workforce employed at all nursing homes to ensure the appropriate mix of properly trained staff is on duty at all times
- Increase the number of and access to home care packages
- Provide TAFE places so 20,000 aged care workers can obtain or improve qualifications
- Address the number of GPs working in aged care
If elected, Labor has also committed to improving the training of aged care staff to enable the workforce to better understand dementia, including establishing scholarships for nurses and carers to undertake specialist dementia care training.
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler commended the ALP for pledging to take action to address the aged care crisis.
“Years of inaction by governments and a lack of responsibility from far too many aged care providers has resulted in an aged care workforce that is at breaking point,” Ms Butler said.
“Aged care nurses and carers are completely demoralised by what they’re forced to put up with, including being unfairly targeted and blamed for ongoing systemic failures of a sector in crisis.”
Ms Butler said nurses and carers would be heartened by the ALP’s position and moves to start action in aged care rather than waiting for the Royal Commission to end.
“There will still be much work to do, such as guaranteeing safe staffing levels and ensuring transparency for all government funding for the sector to make sure taxpayers’ money us used for the direct care of residents,” Ms Butler said.