Blow to residents, remaining staff

Getting rid of RNs means untrained staff must send elderly residents to hospital for minor treatments.

Darren: “The loss of nurses has had a big impact on the people left trying to do the job.”
Darren: “The loss of nurses has had a big impact on the people left trying to do the job.”

Waratah Village’s move to do away with registered nurses hit West Wyalong, population 3000, “like a bombshell” said RN Darren Price. “It’s been front page in our little town for months.”

Darren was employed at Waratah Village for two years until November 2010. He now works around the corner at West Wyalong District Hospital, where Waratah Village residents are sometimes sent for treatment of minor injuries that were previously dealt with at the facility by a nurse.

Darren gave an example of an elderly resident at Waratah Village who fell down and suffered a skin tear.

“It would have been no issue for an RN to do the dressing, but the personal carer was not comfortable with handling it, so the lady was transferred by ambulance to the hospital,” he said.

“The loss of nurses has had a big impact on the people left trying to do the job. Most of them are personal care assistants who now have to make decisions that were once made by an RN.

“There’s been a phenomenal reduction in hours which is forcing staff to look for other jobs because they cannot continue to operate under that pressure.”

As a Freemason, Darren was especially upset because he helped facilitate Waratah Village’s sale to the Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution which owns 20 aged care facilities across NSW and the ACT.

“I introduced the CEO of the RFBI to Bland Shire Council and championed their cause because they had such a glowing reputation in aged care going back 40 years,” he said.

“The RFBI jumped at the chance to put in a tender, and I don’t understand why they took a slash and burn approach to this facility. Waratah Village was losing money but the RFBI’s bottom line is very good – they had a $6.4 million net operating surplus last year.”

In a letter to the West Wyalong Advocate, Darren said the RFBI’s decision to agree to round-the-clock rostering of RNs “was completely a result of the NSW Nurses’ Association applying pressure to an organisation that thought it could flout a small legislative loophole …” and degrade a standard of care that had served the town for 30 years.

“The NSW Nurses’ Association should be well commended for their diligent, consistent and vigorous defence of the right of aged care residents to receive proper care from a complement of staff that includes registered nurses.”