May 31, 2019

A concerned wife calls for staff ratios after witnessing husband’s care

This article was submitted to HelloCare by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. She wrote these words in response to our article about staff ratios.

During observations of my husband’s and fellow patients’ care in a secure dementia facility, I have witnessed many complex issues and problems with staffing ratios, staff education and skills.

I see that most nursing staff do not have enough daily contact with dementia patients to get to know these patients as individuals that enable them to develop a report to help to serve their individual needs.

I see that when personal carers are allowed continuity of caring for the same patients they are then able to develop appropriate report to deliver supportive quality care and helpful responses to dementia behaviours.

I see that when staff is constantly changed this causes confusion for staff and patients and in turn causes more dementia behaviour issues.

I was recently asked by a newly appointed unit manager, meeting me for the first time, “Why is my husband there? “ This question alone was enough to have me question her placement to a secure dementia facility.

To qualify for age care nursing we were bound by government regulations and assessments and I don’t know anyone who would choose to give up their home and an independent lifestyle other than that health limiting circumstances render us unable to care for ourselves or our loved ones.

I also found her views upon diet requirements, weight management and general health management unacceptable with little regard for our personal lifestyle choices.

A personal commitment to understanding dementia and a personal choice to serving the needs of dementia patients are surely essential to anyone working in dementia care, however special dementia education should be mandatory to work in this industry and facilities should invest in ongoing education support for all staff.

This Royal Commission has revealed that suitable staff to resident / patient ratio must be provided to provide the level of care necessary for responsible, complete care that is appropriate to the needs of our aged community.

What are your thoughts about staff ratios?

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  1. As a wife of someone with Alzheimer’s who visits seven days a week for between four and five hours sometimes more, I wholeheartedly agree with this lady.
    Not enough staff, the staff are changed around all the time and because of under staffing they don’t have enough time to actually find out what causes agitation, confusion and all the others things which are part of the different dementia’s and for the most part don’t seem very knowledgeable about it either, that said most of them are kind and caring, they are simply under the pump all the time, worrying about who needs toileting next or collecting dishes , they shouldn’t be expected to do anything other than care for the residents.
    I would like to remain anonymous also.

    I prefer to remain anonymous also

  2. I would have to disagree. I have worked with “so-called” educated staff working on Dementia specific Wards and they are no better for their Specific training in Dementia. Most are of foreign backgrounds some are young males Australian or otherwise and have no idea how to communicate with anyone let alone a dementia resident. Look. If Aged Care facilities paid better wages you would see more Australians working in the industry. They would be able to be understood by our mostly Australian speaking residents and I can honestly say that young and mature aged Australian born female staff do a better job than outsiders and young males. Even when the residents are non Australian I have noticed Australian staff seem to communicate better through sheer commonsense. You won’t find any Australian Clinical Managers in our establishment one of the biggest in the country! RNs were advised last year at a meeting to avoid incident forms when staff are physically abused. Do you think they care about their staff? So the question is would you trust a company that bullies their staff to care for your loved ones?

    1. I disagree about young male staff my son was 15 when he started as a school base trainee and he was and still is a very loving caregiver. He was loved by all his resident and there families. Age care need more males . A facility i worked at the same as my son had quite a few you males and they were all great loving cares and having these young man gabe the male contact that alot of males resident crave for .

  3. All this scares me as I have to make a decision to put hubby into one of these Alzheimer Dementia security lockup facilities soon & with no professional caring English speaking staff, how can the small amount of staff control so many people at the one time when it is hard to control one person with Dementia… The Govt need to reassess their thoughts & the costs should not be so high. They need to help train lots more nurses & aides specifically for Dementia/Alzheimers & other forms of Dementia as well…

  4. I work in a public aged care facility which is largely staffed by australian females. All of the care staff at our facility are nurses either ens or rns and are very well trained in dementia specfic care. When finding a facility for your loved one you should make several visits to the facility at different times of the day, and speak to the families of other residents while you are there. Also use respite services at the facilities you are considering to see the care provided for yourself.


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