2010 was an important year for aged care, with many aims of the Because we care campaign progressed. Here?s a look at some of the highlights.
Nurses took the aged care reform debate to Canberra. Members and nursing home residents travelled to Parliament House to deliver the message to the Federal Government to make Budget 2010 the aged care Budget. NSWNA representatives delivered bundles of Because we care Budget 2010 postcards to MPs.
TV ad campaign to put pressure on the Federal Government to deliver funding to aged care. The ads were filmed in NSW, with the message presented by a family member of a nursing home resident.
The Quality Aged Care Action Group (QACAG) attended a Seniors’ Week event at Bennelong, where they presented then Member for Bennelong Maxine McKew with 1,700 pink ‘Dignity and Respect’ postcards for her to pass on to then Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot.
The Federal Government announced $700 million for more aged care beds, followed by an announcement that aged care workforce issues would be included in the Productivity Commission’s review of the sector.
At a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on 19 April, aged care was named as being included in the Federal Government’s sweeping reforms of the health sector to receive additional funding.
Members and NSWNA officers attended the Community Cabinet held in Bennelong and were able to direct questions at then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd about aged care, and subsequently had meetings with the Federal Treasurer and Minister for Ageing.
The Because we care campaign achieved a major win, with the Rudd Government allocating $130 million to initiatives that would improve the skill level of aged care nurses and explore setting up a national licensing system for AiNs and care workers. Of this funding, $60 million was set aside for education initiatives, enabling 50,000 aged care workers eligible for incentives from 1 July to improve their skills.
A new aged care Nurse Practitioner scheme was announced in the Budget: $18.7 million to be made available from 1 July to fund 25 NPs covering 100 nursing homes.
The ANF co-ordinated an event at a nursing home in Queanbeyan to tie in with the Budget and International Nurses’ Day. Several NSWNA aged care members were present and able to speak directly with former Prime Minister Rudd and key MPs.
The ANF submitted an extensive report to the Productivity Commission Inquiry, recommending an overhaul of the aged care sector nationally, especially around good models of care, staff ratios and skill mix, staff recruitment and retention, licensing of AiNs and the improvement of the aged care complaints system. QACAG also put in a submission after meeting with the Commission, and focused on the experiences of its members in NSW, many with direct experience of aged care services for themselves or their relatives, or having worked in aged care.
The NSWNA held an Aged Care Forum with updates about bargaining, national registration and the Because we care campaign. Specialist guest speakers covered topics including the roles and responsibilities in medication duties for nurses and care staff, challenges of attracting new graduate nurses into aged care, and the unique issues of gay and lesbian nursing home residents.
A petition was started on the Because we care website and in paper form, with the aim of collecting 20,000 signatures nationally in support of the ANF’s submission to the Productivity Commission. This will be presented to the Commission during the process of it preparing its final report to the Government.
A report by National Seniors Australia, The Future of Aged Care, warned that unless the aged care system undergoes major reform it will be crippled by burgeoning costs and eventually become unsustainable.
The ANF submitted a supplementary submission to the Productivity Commission to specifically detail the ongoing work of the Because we care campaign. It outlines the rationale, aims and key activities of the campaign and summarises the findings from focus groups, research and consultation.
The NSWNA would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to members in aged care who keep the sector running under great pressure while lobbying for change on behalf of the residents. We also commend the community and nurses in other sectors who support the campaign and the the Quality Aged Care Action Group for their hard work at numerous community events and lobbying activities.
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