Keep Up The Pressure On Government

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MP Rob Oakeshott signing the pledge

MP Rob Oakeshott signing the pledge

Now the Productivity Commission has finished its report, with findings that wages are an issue in aged care and competitive wages should be paid, the Commission is no longer a player in the NSWNA’s campaign. Instead, as reported in last month’s issue of The Lamp, the Association’s focus is now directly aimed at the Federal Government.‘The report is finalised, now it is up to the Government to fix aged care and put the care back into aged care,’ said NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes. ‘We must keep the pressure on the Prime Minister, and members need to talk to their local MPs to ask them to commit to supporting improvements in aged care.’

Send a postcard to the prime minister

The NSWNA is calling on members to distribute ‘Aged care can’t wait’ brochures and postcards and encourage your friends, families and colleagues to sign and send the postcards directly to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

‘If you can run a community stall in your local shopping centre, this is an excellent way to engage members of the public and ask them to send off postcards,’ said NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes.

For more information and to receive brochures and postcards, contact Stella Topaz at the Association on 02 8595 1234 or email stopaz@nswnurses.asn.au.

Ask your MP to sign a pledge

The NSWNA, along with members, is continuing to visit Federal MPs requesting they sign a pledge to support aged care reform.

Katja Jackman, EN in aged care, met with member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott, along with her colleague Kerry Hunter, EN, and NSWNA Organiser Joanne McKeough on the day the Productivity Commission report was released.

‘We explained to Rob the difficulty of giving good care when there’s not enough staff or the right mix of staff, and he signed the “Pledge for Aged Care” in support of aged care nurses getting equal wages and safer staffing overall,’ said Katja.

‘The report acknowledges the need to fix the wages gap and improve staffing and skill mix, so we are pleased there is at least recognition of this, and pleased many MPs are listening to local nurses and signing their support via the pledges. I urge other members to visit their local MP with the NSWNA to ask them commit to supporting aged care reform.’

Daryl Melham, member for Banks

NSWNA aged care members Marina Cheung (left), Majella Booth (third from left), and Elenoa Kamali (right) visited member for Banks, Daryl Melham, along with QACAG representatives Glenys Moffat (second from right) and Margaret Zanghi (second from left). Daryl said he was supportive of aged care forms.

What members said about the Productivity Commission report

Terri Burrell, RN in aged care

‘I was very pleased to give evidence at the Productivity Commission hearings in March this year, on behalf of the NSWNA. In particular, I talked about the average time that I was the sole RN on shift – with support from ENs, AiNs and care staff, the time I am able to offer to each resident in my care, and how this has diminished over the 20 years I have worked in aged care. It is around eight minutes of RN care on an early shift and 11 minutes on a late shift.

‘Not only does this make my job less satisfying and at times more risky, I personally leave most shifts knowing I haven’t been able to deliver the quality of care the residents should receive. This is their permanent home and they are here for complex care – when the care hours and skill mix continue to go down, it has long-term effects on people’s health, wellbeing and contentment.

‘I appreciated that the Commission listened to me and the other NSWNA representative, and I can see that the final report has strengthened the focus on workforce reform. It highlights that there must be the right mix of nursing and support staff, and that the wage gap is a key reason for difficulties attracting and retaining nurses to aged care.’

Lucille McKenna, DoN in aged care and President of the Quality Aged Care Action Group (QACAG)

‘I have worked in aged care for 40 years and have seen a lot of reviews and changes. This report signals a huge opportunity for reform in aged care, and I truly hope the Government seizes this to really make a lasting, positive difference in aged care.

‘One of the areas I spoke to the Commissioners about on behalf of QACAG was the inconsistent training for Certificate III and IV in aged care. There are training providers that take advantage of the system and push students through in just a few weeks, and with very poor opportunities for work experience or learning from others face-to-face. This is no good for the student as they are poorly equipped to start work, it puts pressure on the other staff and does not offer residents properly-trained staff.

‘I am very pleased to see that this has been reflected in the report, including a recommendation to “undertake an independent and comprehensive review of aged care-related vocational and educational training courses and their delivery by registered training organisations”.

‘QACAG is also very vocal about ensuring the right mix of skilled nurses and care staff, and the need to pay wages equivalent to nurses in other sectors. From a consumer perspective, if there aren’t enough staff to do things such as assist with meals or just spend time with a resident, this can fall to family or even other residents.

‘In many situations, there isn’t the family to do this, and where there is, these should be pleasurable activities, and not to prop up the lack of proper staffing and ‘hide’ the deficit. I am pleased the report recognises staffing, skill mix and wages as essential components of reform, and we regard this as urgent. It is now in the hands of the Government, and QACAG will continue to lobby the government to fund a staffing and wages strategy in Budget 2012.’