Hope on the horizon for aged care staffing ratios

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has welcomed the federal Opposition’s pre-election pledge to begin addressing the aged care crisis by introducing staffing ratios, ensuring a registered nurse is onsite 24/7 and supporting a long overdue pay rise for aged care workers.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the announcement had given aged care members across the state a substantial lift after many years of highlighting issues in the sector.  

“This is the first time a major political party has committed to mandate the ratios we need in aged care to keep our residents safe and reform a sector that’s been neglected for far too long,” said Mr Holmes.

“If elected, these commitments will play a significant role in addressing key findings of the aged care royal commission, as well as restoring confidence the in sector, its workforce and importantly, residents and their families.

“Ensuring there’s a registered nurse in every aged care facility for 24 hours a day will be an enormous benefit to the level of clinical nursing care that’s provided, help to address some of the skill mix issues and reduce the flow-on pressure on the public health system.”

NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said the Opposition’s pledge offered a sense of dignity and respect to all aged care nurses and the residents in their care.

“For many years, our aged care members have been let down by governments unwilling to tackle the issues across the sector. It’s government inaction that has prompted the crisis aged care is in today,” Ms Candish said.

“Aged care nursing is physically and emotionally hard. The conditions are so tough that staff find it too difficult to stay. The pandemic exacerbated existing problems and it’s become far worse.

“These commitments will give reason for aged care nurses to keep going and also offer a sense of hope to nursing students to consider working in the sector given the growing demand of our ageing population.”

NSWNMA Councillor and aged care registered nurse, Jocelyn Hofman, welcomed the Opposition’s pledge and said she was elated after more than 20 years of advocating for staffing ratios and better pay.

“I’m beyond words because I know just how much of a difference having all of these promises will make to aged care workers, our residents and our communities. We have been fighting hard for this to come to fruition and I’m excited to have some renewed hope,” said Ms Hofman.

NSWNMA delegate and aged care Assistant in Nursing, Linda Hardman, said she was filled with emotion because of how significant the promises were after many years of campaigning.

“Finally, we’ve got our hope back because someone has actually listened and mapped out a way to restore the dignity and respect aged care really deserves. We give our best to our jobs and the residents in our care, but the sector has been ignored for too long. Having staffing ratios would make an enormous difference and we’re stoked it’s now a possibility,” Ms Hardman said.

The NSWNMA confirmed it would continue campaigning to ensure all aged care promises are delivered.

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