Burnt out and dejected, a group of registered nurses, enrolled nurses and assistants in nursing from residential aged care sites across NSW are travelling to Canberra, desperate to have their voices heard when federal parliament resumes tomorrow.
Armed with first-hand accounts of chronic workforce shortages, poor access to booster vaccines, and ongoing battles over supplies of personal protective equipment and rapid antigen tests, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) members will highlight stark realities of working in aged care under the Morrison government.
NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said the situation was beyond shocking and the aged care nurses she travelled with would deliver home truths to every parliamentarian they encountered.
“Last Friday while the Prime Minister was shampooing an apprentice’s hair for the cameras, more aged care residents tragically lost their lives because of the horrible crisis the sector is in,” said Ms Candish.
“This government is accountable for the deaths of 1,500* aged care residents since the pandemic began. Sadly, 533 of these COVID-19 related deaths have occurred this year alone.
“Our aged care members across NSW are at breaking point. There’s simply still not enough staff to provide basic care.
“We’ve had reports of an aged care nurse working 16 shifts in a row. The expectation that a nurse can work 16 back-to-back shifts is disgraceful and unsafe.
“Aged care nurses cannot continue to carry the burden that’s being placed on them. Many have described the physical and mental exhaustion they’re battling each shift, not to mention the multiple shifts they’re working because of the chronic understaffing.
“Members tell us the government’s quick-fix privately sourced workforce has been remarkably absent, with reports of limited availability, the wrong qualifications, or not even showing up.
“It’s been more empty promises, more wasted money and a proper waste of time by this government, leaving aged care workers fatigued and fed up.
“The Prime Minister would have us all believe his government is doing everything it can to ‘fix’ aged care but is this really the best they can do?” Ms Candish questioned.
*nationally, as at 4 Feb 2022
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