Sep 01, 2021

New bill calls for a national law requiring registered nurses 24/7 in aged care homes


The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is calling on all Federal Senators to support a private member’s bill, the Aged Care Amendment (Registered Nurses Ensuring Quality Care) Bill 2021, scheduled to be introduced by Senator Rex Patrick today (1 September 2021).

There is currently no national law requiring registered nurses to be rostered in nursing homes 24/7. If passed, this Bill will require that at least one registered nurse be working on-site at nursing homes ‘at all times’.

In welcoming Senator Patrick’s Bill, ANMF Federal Assistant Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp said its members were asking why the Morrison Government had still not implemented one of the Royal Commission’s key recommendations to ensure a registered nurse on-site at all times.

Nurses and carers cannot wait any longer. There is just not enough staff to give the care residents need. Sadly, little has changed for them since the Royal Commission handed down its report.

Our members continue to experience chronic understaffing and cuts to hours. The longer the government delays fixing the dangerously inadequate staffing levels in nursing homes, the longer the pain and suffering will continue for those older Australians.

The ANMF and its members encourage all Senators to support this important Bill today.

“We applaud Senator Patrick for standing-up for older Australians and the nurses and carers who care for them,” Ms Sharp said today.

“The implementation of safe nurse staffing levels and mandated minimum staff time, as recommended by the Aged Care Royal Commission, will address the chronic understaffing in the aged care sector. It will stop the neglect and suffering of vulnerable residents who are not receiving the care they deserve.

“A national law requiring a registered nurse to be on shift 24 hours per day in nursing homes is not too much to ask. We ask all Federal senators to support this new Bill and the ANMF’s ongoing fight to address the failures in the aged care system.”

Senator Patrick said “residents, their families, the aged care workforce and the wider Australian community cannot wait any longer” for the Royal Commission’s recommendation for nurse ratios to be introduced by 1 July 2024.

“I’m concerned aged care residents are not getting the care they need, and the care is varied depending on where they are located across Australia. The inconsistent approach leads to variations in the level of care and quality provided to residents. Proper care for our elderly is critical and it requires aged care homes to have registered nurses on site at all times,” Senator Patrick said.

Last week in the House of Representatives, Dr Helen Haines, the independent member for Indi, put forward a private member’s motion, which also called on the Morrison Government to mandate nursing levels and for a range of other reforms to improve aged care, particularly in rural and regional areas.

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  1. A great initiative with two provisos – [1] that the funds are made available to enhance the skills mix resourcing in such a way otherwise there will be reductions in other disciplines; and [2] that there are sufficient RN’s available who wish to work in aged care. There have for some years been shortages of RN’s who want to work in aged care – why would they when it’s far simpler to work in acute care. Less paperwork – less media – no gestapo inspections – nobody criticising the decisions you made in good faith with your expertise based on their personal opinion [perhaps not even based on qualifications] – and no mandatory vaccination demands or face $10,000 fines as is the case in W.A. after 17 September. Absolutely applaud the intent but saying it doesn’t make it so. Effectively nothing has been delivered from the RC report except for extra regulation, extra reporting and extra inspection. This all takes people away from their main focus [our elders]. A blinding flash of the obvious surely?


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