The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says last night’s opening of a two-part investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners program into the treatment of the elderly in aged care homes shone the spotlight on a sector in crisis and a section of the Australian community that has been abandoned.
“For years, our members have been raising concerns about dangerously low staffing levels in nursing homes, as well as practices uncovered by last night’s program, such as the restriction of continence pads and appallingly unhealthy food,” ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said.
“The revelations from the program are beyond distressing, they are intolerable.
“As a society we have a moral obligation to stop this neglect and abuse of the elderly. We cannot allow it to continue for a single day longer.”
Last Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a Royal Commission that will examine negligence, inadequate care and abuse.
Yet Ms Butler said the sector’s problems were clearly identifiable through numerous reports and inquiries undertaken over the past two decades and that the government needed to act and mandate staffing ratios in aged care urgently.
“Every day we wait for the federal government to act on staffing shortages is yet another day the most vulnerable members of our society are forced to suffer – without proper care, proper food, without compassion and without dignity. Voiceless and abandoned.”
Ms Butler commended aged care staff and residents’ relatives who bravely spoke out on last night’s Four Corners program, exposing the problems in aged care homes across Australia and standing up for the care of the nation’s elderly.
“Despite the very best efforts of many dedicated aged care nurses and carers, without minimum staffing ratios it just isn’t possible for them to deliver the care that elderly residents need. There is no law, no minimum standard or any form of evidence based model for safe staffing in aged care.”