Community Consultations With Minister for Ageing

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From left to right: Debbie Lang, RN, NSWNA Councillor, QACAG member; Minister for Mental Health & Ageing Mark Butler; MP

From left to right: Debbie Lang, RN, NSWNA Councillor, QACAG member; Minister for Mental Health & Ageing Mark Butler; MP

NSWNA and QACAG members took part in a series of community consultations with Minister for Ageing Mark Butler.Older Australians, their families and carers were invited to participate in a conversation on ageing with Federal Minister for Mental Health & Ageing Mark Butler at the end of August.

The events – held in Sydney, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, Gosford and Ballina – provided the opportunity for local communities to discuss the Productivity Commission’s report on aged care, which was released 8 August 2011.

Margaret Zanghi from the Quality Aged Care Action Group (QACAG) attended the Sydney meeting, which she said attracted around 100 people.

‘Minister Butler spoke about the report, and questions were raised about the care and the money. My husband suffered from a neurological disorder and he went into nursing home. My concerns and that of others were about the nursing care and the need for an official nurse-to-patient ratio – which QACAG and the NSWNA are campaigning for, as well pay parity for aged care nurses,’ said Margaret.

‘Money needs to be quarantined for that purpose rather than just handing it over to nursing home owners. Many people raised issues around the money for aged care and where it’s coming from and how it is spent.’

Margaret said that many carers and residents felt there were not enough positives in the report for them, but felt the meeting was beneficial.

‘There were some angry reactions to the report, which many people felt was biased in favour of nursing home owners, but it was a productive meeting in that opinions were aired. I’d like to see further work done and the question of nurses’ pay addressed, and for aged care money to be quarantined, so that a set proportion goes to hands-on care,’ said Margaret.

‘This is tax payers’ money and you have to have transparency. What other organisations receive money, say thanks and then just do what’s best for their business. For some this is empire building through constructing new facilities. For example, the nursing home where my husband was living was a bit dilapidated but the owners built a new facility in another area. That money should have gone into the existing building – to the care and comfort of those residents already there.’

At the Gosford meeting, nursing issues were also raised. ‘We talked about everything from who is going to be caring for whom, and the importance of AiNs in the workplace, to skill mix overall,’ said NSWNA member Joseph Cidoni, RN at Gosford Hospital.

NSWNA supports ‘Fight Dementia’ campaign

The NSWNA is forming a delegation to take part in a ‘March on Parliament House’ on 13 October, in support of Alzheimer’s Australia’s Fight Dementia campaign.

There are 269,000 Australians living with dementia today, and by 2050 this number will be almost one million. Yet the 2011 Federal Budget provided no additional funding to combat the dementia epidemic and ceased the ‘Dementia Initiative – making dementia a national health priority’, meaning the loss of guaranteed funding for essential programs and support services for people living with dementia.

Buses will leave Sydney at 6am on 13 October and return later the same day. To register your interest in attending, contact Stella Topaz on 02 8595 1234 or 1300 367 962 or email stopaz@nswnurses.asn.au

For more information on the Fight Dementia campaign, visit www.alzheimers.org.au

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Aged care minister visits Woy Woy facility

Members from the NSWNA and QACAG presented their views and concerns about aged care to the Minister for Mental Health & Ageing Mark Butler last month when he visited the Woy Woy Community Aged Care facility.

The Minister had a tour of the not-for-profit facility on the same day as the community consultation meeting in Gosford (see story on previous page).

‘Our CEO invited the CEOs of Peninsula and Community Care Groups for a talk with Minister Butler. We have got enough staff and the right skill mix in Woy Woy and our facility is an example of how aged care could and should work,’ said Kathy Murphy, RN at Woy Woy Community Aged Care.

NSWNA Councillor Debbie Lang, RN and founding member of QACAG Central Coast, said: ‘It was a good opportunity to speak directly to MP Mark Butler and MP Deb O’Neill. Although I was disappointed by the fact there was nothing concrete on staffing, the Minister was very generous with his time and really listened to what people had to say.’

More MPs sign aged care pledge

NSWNA members visited Deb O’Neill, MP for Robertson, in August. During the visit she not only signed the Association’s pledge to support aged care but also promised to raise members’ concerns with Minister for Mental Health & Ageing Mark Butler.

‘Our efforts to lobby Deb O’Neill resulted in her raising our issues with the Minister and passing on our concerns,’ said Joseph Cidoni, RN at Gosford Hospital, who attended the meeting. ‘We briefed her on the Because we care aims, including wage disparity, and Minister Butler acknowledged these issues. This is a great example of why it’s important for members to lobby their MPs as it can result in our issues being heard at the highest level.’

Tony Windsor, Independent MP for New England, also met with local nurses about aged care and signed the aged care pledge.

Ask your MP to sign the pledge

The NSWNA, along with members, is continuing to visit Federal MPs to ask them to ‘Sign the pledge for aged care’ and listen to local nurses about the reforms needed in aged care.

Contact Stella Topaz at the Association on 8595 1234 or email stopaz@nswnurses.asn.au if you would like to attend a visit to your Federal MP.

BUPA members collect aged care postcards

Members at BUPA Tamworth collected signed ‘Aged care can’t wait’ postcards at their recent Branch meeting. From left to right: Lynne Davidson, RN; Roma Marshall, RN; Deidre Cotton, AiN; Jean Whitty, AiN; Wynta Tout, AiN; Joan McMillian, AiN; Karen Grzazek, AiN; Noelene Martin, RN; and Liz Ajani, RN.

Keep collecting signatures for postcards

It’s important to keep up the pressure on the Prime Minister to commit to supporting improvements in aged care. Please keep distributing the NSWNA’s ‘Aged care can’t wait postcards’ and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to sign them and send them directly to PM Gillard’s office.

Contact Stella Topaz at the Association on 8595 1234 or email stopaz@nswnurses.asn.au for postcards.