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Lecturer speaks up for RNs in aged care

A Charles Sturt University academic has told a Legislative Council committee about the value of registered nurses in residential aged care.

 Last week, nursing lecturer Dr Maree Bernoth gave evidence to the inquiry into RNs in NSW nursing homes. She said: "I'm quite perplexed that we would even be having a conversation about the value of registered nurses in aged care.”

Bernoth said what should be discussed instead are the systems that would support RNs in residential aged care, remuneration and societal attitudes towards them, as well as assisting them in working at their full scope of practice and the related education and skills required.

She also addressed talk at the Upper House inquiry surrounding the idea that RNs' work in aged care would be boring.

“I am maybe not the best person to put that to because I'm so in favour of having registered nurses there,” Bernoth said. “The registered nurse's role in aged care, from my perspective, is a very challenging one, a very complex one, and a very exciting one. Boring? No.”

Bernoth raised with the inquiry her concerns about the absence of staffing ratios in residential aged care. "Residents and their families are often surprised when they learn there are no staff ratios,” she said. “This is an area that needs further discussion."

She said: "In advocating for RNs in aged care, I am advocating for quality care for frail members of our community. It is not about prolonging life unnecessarily. It is about appropriate care to underpin quality of life."

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