The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) today will tell Federal Senators how the Turnbull Government’s $1.8 billion in funding cuts has created a crisis in aged care – with frail nursing home residents now unable to get basic standards of care.
ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas and ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary Neroli Ellis will be joined by leading academics and ANMF members at the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, sitting in Launceston today and focusing on the future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce.
“We welcome the opportunity to present our Submission on the future of the aged care workforce and to personally explain how the devastating funding cuts through the ACFI (Aged Care Funding Instrument) have, and will impact on the level of care being delivered at nursing homes across the country,” Ms Thomas said.
“This was highlighted in the disturbing findings of the ANMF’s nationwide survey where aged care nurses and carers told us that 93% of workers think current funding does not meet the needs of residents, particularly those with high-care requirements. They said inadequate staffing levels has caused a dramatic decline in the standards of basic care and that they cannot spend adequate time bathing and feeding their patients and even being able to spend a little time with them.
“The findings of the ANMF’s National Aged Care Survey outline an appalling lack of regard from Australian governments and politicians for our elderly. The findings describe a systemic failure to ensure safe and adequate care to aged care residents and suggest governments and some providers are forsaking the elderly the dignity they deserve at the end of their lives.
“The Government’s own modelling has revealed that aged care budget cuts will see the funding for some frail residents with high care needs in nursing homes drop from $46 a day per resident, to just $16.
“The Committee received over 300 submissions, many of them from registered nurses and carers working in the aged care industry, and many with names withheld or confidential, due to the sensitive stories our members have to tell. This Committee must listen to these stories from those on the frontline working with our frail older Australians and also from family members and the general community who are so concerned they have contacted the ANMF to tell us their stories.
“As we know, the sector nationally is suffering a shortfall of 20,000 nurses to care for a rapidly ageing population. In Tasmania for example, it’s estimated that an extra 5000 carers will be required by 2025 and that is without nursing staff added.
“Whilst the proportion of high care residents entering aged care facilities has increased to 83% in 2014[i], the number of registered nurses has decreased to 12%, down from 13.2%[ii]. “it’s a worrying trend that whilst residents are entering more frail, and in need of complex nursing care, aged care providers are choosing to hire less registered nurses.”
“Already at some nursing homes, it’s not uncommon to have just the 1 Registered Nurse (RN) and one or two carers caring for up to 150 residents. With a rapidly ageing population, it’s only going to get worse unless the Government reverses the cuts to the aged care sector and delivers a sustainable workforce strategy to ensure safe staffing and skills mix in residential care.
“From the ANMF’s perspective, today’s hearing is a chance for the Senators to listen to the shocking stories our members in aged care are recounting – and to act.”
Quotes from ANMF National Survey presented to the Senate Inquiry[iii]
[i] http://www.anmf.org.au/documents/submissions/ANMF_Aged_Care_Inquiry_2016_Report.pdf, page 12.
[ii] Ibid Page 10.
[iii] (ANMF National Aged Care Survey Results – July 2016, http://bit.ly/2eh0dLn)
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