The ANMF has called for radical change ahead of official proceedings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety which kick off tomorrow.
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said chronic understaffing and under regulation of the aged care system were the root causes of the horrific stories of pain and suffering experienced by nursing home residents detailed in the media.
The unregulated use of chemical and physical restraints in nursing homes exposed this week provided yet another example of how the elderly were suffering as a result of chronic understaffing in aged care, Ms Butler said.
“Nurses and doctors and other health professionals have been sounding alarms about these issues for over a decade, with no action.
“Time and time again, we have warned governments of the effects of chronic understaffing in nursing homes. We have provided them with evidence of the dangerously low staffing levels that exist in too many nursing homes across the country. We have conducted rigorous academic research to provide evidence for the amount of staffing and care we know should be available in nursing homes, and we’ve even developed an implementation plan and a financial analysis for phasing in an evidence-based methodology for improved staffing – with no response.”
One of the key barriers to change was the culture of thinking that aged care, and the aged themselves, don’t deserve the attention or investment given to other sectors, Ms Butler said.
“That culture has to change. If we are to have any real hope of providing older Australians with the care they deserve, we must re-focus. The culture in aged care has long been about profits, not people.
“Older Australians are entitled to affordable, accessible and high-quality aged care services delivered by a professionally trained, accredited and dedicated workforce. They do not deserve the current chronic understaffing and underfunding that leads to unnecessary wait lists, unmet expectations, pain and suffering.”
Providing dignified care for vulnerable residents, particularly those with dementia and other complex high-care needs, required the right number of nurses and carers with the right skill mix, Ms Butler said.
“Nurses, doctors and qualified health professionals agree, the system must introduce mandated minimum staffing ratios and skills mixes to finally end this crisis.
“We know it requires investment but we also know that the investment will be recovered through more jobs and productivity gains over time.”