Aged care homes need nurses on site 24/7: New report

Senior woman and caregiver

A NSW Select Committee inquiry into registered nurses in aged care homes has found that “shocking conditions” in aged care homes are getting worse, not better.

“Chronic under-funding, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, has put an increased burden on nursing and personal care staff,” the committee noted in its final report.

Any increased funding should be accompanied by improved transparency in how that funding is spent, they recommend.

The Committee’s first recommendation is to amend the Public Health Amendment (Registered Nurses in Nursing Homes) Bill 2020 to include a requirement for RNs to be on duty “at all times” in nursing homes.

Australian Health Services Research Institute told the inquiry there is “a direct link between staffing levels and skills mix, and the quality of care provided to residents”. 

“However, the committee heard that there has been a gradual decline over several decades in the number and mix of qualified health professionals. 

“The research institute pointed to statistics indicating a decrease between 2003 and 2016 of health professionals working in aged care, as well as an increase in less skilled, non-clinical personal care workers.”

Grant Millard, Chief Executive Officer of Anglicare Sydney, told the inquiry of the high need for RNs in aged care homes, as opposed to in retirement villages. 

The report also describes a process of “cost shifting” that occurs in NSW aged care homes where, when there is not an RN on site, staff have to send residents to hospital more often. The committee recommends the government undertake a “detailed analysis” of this practice.

The committee also said the “appalling statistics” on sexual assault in aged care need to be addressed with a register and to ensure the SIRS (Serious Incident Response Scheme) encapsulates sexual assaults appropriately.

They found that the COVID-19 outbreak at Newmarch House was not handled “according to best practice”.

The committee also recommends the federal government develop a workforce plan for aged care in Australia.

The NSW government has six months to respond to the report.

You can read the report in full here.

What do you think about this proposal? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. What’s so “innovative” about having an RN 24/7? Some states e.g. Tas have had this in place for many years. Some of the “bigger states” with lots of FP organisations need to put care needs ahead of the bottom line results.

    1. Many Providers of Aged Care Facilities do not want RN’s because it cuts into their profits!

      If it’s not enshrined in Legislation( ie, unless they are forced to) many will not pay that little bit extra to have at least one RN 24/7 in each facility!

  2. Caroline; the impetus of this article is very good and I hope it achieves its aim. May I add that the opportunity exists to expand NH Care to encompass a vital factor missing at the moment. That is a physiotherapist as a permanent addition to staff, for patient care AND staff safety and training. Please take this opportunity to step out of the box here.

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