Apr 26, 2021

Nurses union speaks out on urgently needed reforms: “It’s not too much to ask”

Nurse and resident

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has launched a nationwide campaign aimed at ensuring aged care remains high on the government’s agenda in the lead up to the 2021 federal budget, and that “urgently-needed” reforms – including mandated staff ratios – are legislated.

Mobile billboards will be circulated in the electorates of five of key politicians in an effort to galvanise action: Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Health & Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, and Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers. 

Acting ANMF Federal Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp, said, “Our aged care residents and those who care for them need the Morrison Government to act. 

“Surely, it’s not too much to ask that residents receive basic care they need and deserve in their later years of life.” 

The ANMF is calling for:

  • Mandated staff ratios in aged care homes;
  • Legislated requirements for clinical governance, leadership and expertise in aged care;
  • Legislated transparency and accountability for taxpayer funding for aged care providers;
  • Guaranteeing workforce capacity and capability; and,
  • Registration for unregulated aged care workers.

“The Morrison government must ensure that for-profit providers are using additional taxpayer funds for its intended purposes – providing additional staff with the right skills mix so that they can deliver the care that elderly residents deserve,” said Sharp.

Sean Rooney, CEO of Leading Age Services Australia, said LASA, along with the Australian Aged Care Collaboration, supports the Royal Commission’s recommendation that RNs, enrolled nurses and PCWs provide 200 minutes of care per resident per day, with at least 40 minutes of that care provided by an RN by 1 July 2022. He stopped short of saying LASA support staff ratios.

Rooney said LASA also supports the funding of a workforce program for training, clinical placements and training scholarships, and an increase in award wages for aged care workers.

LASA and the AACC are committed to the “progressive implementation” of “enhanced transparency and accountability provisions” by December 2022, “including a wider range of clinical indicators, a star rating performance system and reporting of care staff hours”. 

“We support the reporting of service level financial data to an independent pricing authority and strengthened prudential regulations,” Rooney said.

The AACC has identified 15 priority areas for reform, including human rights, access and choice, workforce, transparency and sustainability. 

“We believe the Australian Government should act on these priority areas immediately to ensure older Australians are given the respect and support they need, and the community expects,” Rooney stated.

“The 11 May Federal Budget provides the ideal opportunity to adequately fund the aged care system,” Rooney added, noting that Australia spends 1.2% of GDP on aged care, less than half the 2.5% comparable countries spend.

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