Nurses and community push for quality aged care

Members of the Quality Aged Care Action Group (QACAG) take their community push for aged care reform to Canberra.

Blue Mountains members of the Quality Aged Care Action Group (QACAG) have been invited by the Federal Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot to take a submission from their recent forum to Canberra.

The group gathered in the Blue Mountains last November to continue its community push for aged care reform.

Co-organiser and retired RN Annette Peters had travelled to Canberra last year as part of the Blue Mountains Aged Care Action Group – a non-affiliated group formed by concerned nurses who have since joined QACAG – at the request of Ms Elliot, following representations by local Federal MP Bob Debus.

The November forum attracted an impressive turnout of politicians, professionals, advocates, residents, families of residents and even a facility proprietor.

‘The key problem is that aged care has shifted from a service model to a corporate model and now operates as a kind of secret sector. No one knows where the money goes and residents are suffering,’ said Annette.

‘We’re seeing a backlash from angry residents and their families who didn’t realise what they were walking into – they were expecting a service run like the public health system.

‘When I spoke to the Minister last year she was very receptive and I thought she had a very good understanding of the sector – though even she said there were complex funding issues that needed to be dealt with. I think she appreciated the direct communication from nurses on the ground.

‘She requested this submission, I think, to help balance the disproportionate amount of intense lobbying from industry.’

At the forum Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus, and local State MP, Phil Koperberg, spoke passionately about the critical need for aged care reform with an increasingly ageing population and were joined at the lectern by NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes, Director of Nursing at St Mary’s Villa Lucille McKenna and physiotherapist Di Tasker.

The core components of the submission include industry regulation and accountability; accreditation of clinical staff, including assistants; accreditation of facilities; clinical staff skill-mixes; greater support from allied health workers; education for kitchen, laundry and cleaning staff; and industry career incentives.

Get involved in QACAG

QACAG takes great pride in announcing the formation of its third chapter on the Central Coast last December. QACAG now has groups in Sydney, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast and is looking at launching another in Tamworth.

People wanting to get involved, especially retired nurses, should contact Stella Topaz at the NSW Nurses’ Association on 8595 1234.