The Guardian • Issue #2049

Aged care employers fail older Australians

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2049

Photo: Public domain

The country’s largest union and professional nursing organisation, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says that aged care employers are in the way of the 24/7 nursing staff our nursing home residents need. The union and its members are committed to work with the government and the aged care industry to ensure that elderly nursing home residents are provided with 24/7 nursing staff.

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said that difficulty in recruitment and retention of suitably qualified staff has been a long term issue in aged care. This is due to the persistently poor wages and conditions and chronic understaffing in the sector.

“The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has rightly acknowledged the severe undervaluation of aged care workers under the current award system, which is why it’s now crucial that providers pass on the full 15 per cent to workers,” Ms Butler said.

“However, many employers continue to say that unless they are ‘legally required’ to pass the money on, they will simply use their discretion about how they spend it. There is no way this can be considered a successful recruitment strategy.

“ANMF members have told us that with legislated requirements for Registered Nurse (RN) 24/7 and mandated care minutes in place accompanied by a wage increase, they will return to work in the sector.

“Rather than recognising what matters to nurses, aged care employers are attempting to hide behind their own mismanagement and failure to create work environments where nurses want to work to avoid meeting the government’s new legislative requirements.

“Any organisation which fails to recognise the real causes of staff shortages in aged care and how to address them is also failing to recognise the urgent and critical need to improve care for older Australians.

“Better staffing in aged care was the key recommendation of the Royal Commission, and the ANMF will continue to support the government and our industry stakeholders to ensure that elderly Australians living in nursing homes get safe, quality care, around the clock,” Ms Butler said.

The government says that almost 80 per cent of the country’s aged care facilities already meet 24/7 nursing requirements, with “another 9 per cent” close to meeting the nurse to patient-ratio-target. The government has a plan to assist others in the transition to meeting the target. It remains to be seen if it will work.

14th April 2023
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