Public sector nurses join aged care campaign

The-Lamp-February2010

Nurses at Nepean Hospital collected hundreds of Because we care postcards.

When the NSWNA launched its Because we care campaign, it wasn’t just aged care nurses who took up the fight. Many of their colleagues working at public sector hospitals realised that the issues facing the aged care sector impacted on them – especially those working in the Emergency Department.

Peter Mason, EEN at Nepean Hospital, and his fellow workers got involved with the Because we care campaign and in December delivered more than 500 campaign postcards to Federal MP for Lindsay, David Bradbury.

‘We put the postcards around the hospital and did a couple of runs at lunchtime on the wards,’ he told The Lamp. ‘We collected 540 postcards, bundled them up and presented them to David Bradbury. We got a commitment from him that aged care is high on the agenda for the Federal Government. Since then we’ve sent off another 70 and still have a box in the staffroom where people can return their signed cards.’

Peter said that treating aged care patients in their familiar environment is good for them and for public sector hospitals.

‘We are such a large hospital with a busy ED but we are not always the best place for elderly people coming from aged care services. We believe there should be nurses in nursing homes and, wherever possible, patients should be treated there, in their homes. When older people become unwell and we pull them out of their nursing home, bring them into an ED, where there are bells and whistles going, the lights are never off, phones ringing, unfamiliar faces, constant noise and activity, this can increase someone’s confusion or distress levels.

‘This is especially the case for people who may have dementia or who rely upon routine and familiarity – they can become very confused. This can make it even harder to diagnose and treat the problem as the person might become more agitated, pull out drips and drains or try to climb out of bed.

‘Treating someone in their own environment, and making sure there are enough nurses in nursing homes to give this care – that is a much better solution for the aged care person and for the health system.

‘A properly funded aged care sector benefits everyone,’ Peter added. ‘I’d encourage all public hospitals to get on board with the Because we care campaign because it’s not just about our workloads, it’s about the aged care patients.’