The Government has revealed that almost 80% of the country’s aged care facilities have already meet 24/7 nursing requirements, with ‘another 9%’ close to meeting the nurse to patient ratio target.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation said the Government had a plan to assist the remaining aged care facilities in the transition to meet this target. The union said it would work with the Government and other key industry stakeholders to ensure this outcome.
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said that difficulty in recruitment and retention of suitably qualified staff has been a long term issue in aged care. This is due to the persistently poor wages and conditions and chronic understaffing in the sector.
“The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has rightly acknowledged the severe undervaluation of aged care workers under the current award system, which is why it’s now crucial that providers to pass-on the full 15% to workers,” Ms Butler said.
“However, many employers continue to say that unless they are ‘legally required’ to pass the money on, they will simply use their discretion about how they spend it. There is no way this can be considered a successful recruitment strategy.
“ANMF members have told us that with legislated requirements for Registered Nurse (RN) 24/7 and mandated care minutes in place accompanied by a wage increase, they will return to work in the sector.
“Rather than recognising what matters to nurses, aged care employers are attempting to hide behind their own mismanagement and failure to create work environments where nurses want to work to avoid meeting the Government’s new legislative requirements.
“Any organisation which fails to recognise the real causes of staff shortages in aged care and how to address them is also failing to recognise the urgent and critical need to improve care for older Australians.
“Better staffing in aged care was the key recommendation of the Royal Commission and the ANMF will continue to support the Government and our industry stakeholders to ensure that elderly Australians living in nursing homes get safe, quality care, around the clock,” Ms Butler said.