Future of RNs in aged care in spotlight

A large group of aged care nurses, specialised carers, advocates and local residents gathered at Springwood yesterday for a community forum to discuss the future of registered nurse staffing in aged care.

Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) have been increasing public awareness of the potential risk to legislation which requires nursing homes across the state to be staffed with registered nurses, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said the current law stipulates nursing homes in NSW must have a registered nurse on duty at all times and a director of nursing appointed.

“As a result of changes to the federal law last year however, the NSW government must now decide whether or not to retain that requirement and is conducting a review,” Mr Holmes said.

“We maintain that it is in the best interests of residents for a registered nurse to be employed around the clock in these care settings.

“Registered nurses in nursing homes often prevent unnecessary trips to emergency departments or prolonged hospital stays, and they can provide immediate skilled, clinical care to residents with complex, high level needs.”

Local candidates running for the seat of Blue Mountains in the state election were also on hand to address the community forum and express their views on the issue, including Trish Doyle (NSW Labor) and Alandra Tasire (NSW Greens). Liberal MP and candidate Roza Sage did not attend but provided a written statement to be read out on her behalf, in which she confirmed her support for the retention of registered nurses around the clock in aged care.

The NSW government introduced an interim measure in June 2014 to maintain the current requirement as consultations occur with the aged care sector. A decision is due by December.

“It is concerning that many nursing homes could lose the registered nurse requirement, if the government decides not to transfer that same requirement into new legislation,” Mr Holmes said.

“We are calling on the Ministry of Health to ensure the requirement is permanently legislated for nursing homes in NSW and will continue to lobby on behalf of registered nurses, enrolled nurses and assistants in nursing for safe staffing and high quality of care across the aged care sector.”

Attendees at the community forum took the opportunity to sign a petition circulated by the NSWNMA, which insists on registered nurses 24/7 in NSW nursing homes. Further details on the petition can be found here.

Download this media release: Future of RNs in aged care into the spotlight

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