The Guardian April 5, 2000


Still no commitment to quality aged care

"The promise of 7,889 residential aged care beds is useless without a 
commitment to providing the same number of aged care nurses. Otherwise we 
will have residents in beds with no one to care for them and the situation 
we had at Riverside which finally drew the Minister's attention to the 
issue will become a daily reality", said Ms Hannah Sellers, Victorian 
Branch Assistant Secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF).

Ms Sellers was commenting on the Government's announcement that it will 
subsidise an extra 7,889 beds in the coming year.

While welcoming the unexpected move to increase the number of beds, care 
givers are sceptical about the Government's attitude to aged care and the 
many systemic problems that it has.

As Ms Sellers points out, "we might end up with more beds, but we still 
have a system where proprietors can employ anyone they like to provide care 
whether they are qualified or not, where proprietors don't have to account 
for the amount of money they spend on nursing care, and where proprietors 
don't have to worry about being caught out when they don't provide 
acceptable levels of care because the standards monitoring system has 
broken down." 

The Aged Care Minister's response to the situation in the Riverside Nursing 
Home in Melbourne had shown that its so-called "reforms" of the aged care 
system do not work.

The move to provide funds for extra beds will not silence the community 
which is uneasy about the quality of aged care or the cost of it. New 
stories appear about mistreatment, poor quality food, etc, from across the 
country. 

In Victoria, the community is relying on the State Government to re-
regulate the nursing homes and hostels so that it can be sure that all 
residents will be receiving high quality care 24 hours a day.

The whole industry meeds re-regulation to ensure there are sufficient 
registered nurses employed to care for the aged. Extra beds won't fix the 
problem. New and enforced regulations along with a sufficient number of 
nurses might.

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