Nurses say aged care staffing levels ‘inadequate’

More than 92% of nurses and aged workers responding to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s (ANMF) national workforce survey say they are being asked to care for the same number of nursing home residents with less staff or less rostered care hours.

The online survey was launched in order for the ANMF to determine the true extent of cuts to care hours in residential facilities across the country.

The survey asks aged care nurses and care staff to identify cuts to care hours at the facilities where they work and how it’s impacting vulnerable residents. After being launched in early August, over 744 aged care nurses and carers have responded to the survey. The largest number of respondents (274) have been from Queensland, where 11 nurses have been sacked and over 2000 care hours have been slashed by providers.

Initial findings show:

  • 92% of respondents are being asked to care for the same number of residents with less staff, less hours;
  • 90% say current staffing levels aren’t adequate;
  • 71% don’t think the ratio of registered nurses to other care staff is adequate;
  • 89% don’t think the ratio of AIN’s/carers/PCW’s to residents is adequate

“Aged care nurses and carers are telling us what’s really going on inside nursing homes across Australia, as a result of registered and enrolled nurses being sacked and thousands of care hours being cut,” ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said today.

“They’re telling us how it is effecting daily care they can provide for elderly residents. There’s inadequate numbers of registered and enrolled nurses and personal care staff, which means that bathing and feeding along with pain and dementia management are all being compromised. As nurses, that’s a great concern to us, as it would be for residents’ and their families.

“The survey shows that some providers are again, citing financial sustainability as the rationale for nursing cuts, as a result of reduced federal funding, but the Government is putting the blame squarely back on the providers – and it’s the residents who are caught in the middle.

“The real problem is that without any mandated staffing levels or care hours in aged care, the Federal Government is allowing providers to determine ‘adequate’ levels of care to meet the basic needs of their residents and as we’ve recently seen, some providers simply cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

“Nurses are being sacked and care hours dramatically reduced and with less nurses, fewer carers and reduced hours, workloads for staff are increasing to dangerous levels and ultimately, it means care is being compromised and residents are suffering.”

To take part in the ANMF survey, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D95M562

The ANMF, with over 259,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.