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Workers, community members sound off on aged care

Health professionals and community members have listed increasing government funding and implementing regulated nurse ratios as steps that should be taken to improve aged care.

The calls come from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s phone-in and online questionnaire in late June. Almost 2500 people took part, including nurses, assistants in nursing (AINs) and members of the community.

Just under 80 per cent of workers who responded to the questionnaire said current staffing at their facility was not sufficient to provide an adequate standard of care, while more than two-thirds said the current ratio of RNs to other care staff at their facility was inadequate.

“Staff are always working short,” one aged-care worker said. “Even fully staffed, there are not enough staff to adequately care for the residents. On evening shift, one RN looks after 115 residents onsite, and another 25 offsite – it is not physically possible to provide quality care. ENs are caring for up to 35 residents each. Of an evening, an AIN cares for up to 34 residents by themselves.”

Of those surveyed, 93 per cent of workers and more than 96 per cent of community members said current funding for aged care was inadequate and did not meet the needs of aged-care residents. Two-thirds of workers and 60 per cent of community members said they would change their vote at the election if one of the parties restored funding to the sector.

One respondent summed their feelings up this way: “Put a politician in our jobs for a week and I’m sure they’d be keen to change things. Even better, admit them as a resident.”

The ANMF will send a report of the survey to the government, the opposition and the Greens.

Federal secretary Lee Thomas said what’s apparent is that nurses and AINs are overworked, and angry and upset that they can’t do their jobs.

“They can’t deliver basic standards of care, like spending adequate time bathing and feeding their patients and being able to spend a little time with them, just to treat them as people,”
Thomas said. “They are struggling to provide the basic care that their frail, vulnerable residents and the families of their residents deserve.”

Click below to hear more from Lee Thomas.

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