Profit must not come first in aged care.
That’s what the Australian College of Nursing’s (ACN) message to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee boiled down to.
Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward provided evidence to the committee’s inquiry on ‘Effectiveness of the aged care quality assessment and accreditation framework for protecting residents from abuse and poor practices, and ensuring proper clinical and medical care standards are maintained and practised’.
Ward warned that the sector is witnessing the erosion of its skills-mix, with less qualified staff asked to take on a larger load.
The college pointed to figures that showed a drop in the number of registered nurses employed in the sector – in 2003, they made up 21 per cent of the aged care workforce, but that has dropped to the current 14.9 per cent.
“When we were preparing our submission, we asked nurses around the country to provide input and they overwhelmingly told us that until there are appropriate staffing levels, and appropriate skills and skills-mix requirements in aged care, then resident protections will be inadequate,” Ward said.
She said a focus on fiscal measures is leading to nurses being replaced in aged care by unregulated workers.
“Having at least one registered nurse on staff at all times in every residential aged care facility in this country can improve the care provided to residents and decrease the risk of mistreatment.”
This point was echoed by Professor Deborah Parker, chair of the ACN’s ageing policy chapter, at Wednesday’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety hearing in Adelaide.
Parker also told the commission of the need for regulation of unlicensed healthcare workers and skills-mix modelling.
The college also called for tougher sanctions on providers who fail to meet the standards and for facilities that fail to provide acceptable care to be shut down.Do you have an idea for a story?
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