Better aged-care begins with more registered nurses in homes
People are marching in the streets demanding better care for older Australians in aged care homes after increasing media reports of neglect, abuse and negligence.
If we want to improve the situation for residents, we need more registered nurses in aged care homes. When registered nurses are on duty, residents have better health outcomes, a higher quality of life and fewer hospital admissions.
When I worked as a critical care nurse in hospitals, there was a one-to-one ratio of registered nurses to patients. Some days were busy, others were not. However, because society values "saving lives", legislation ensures every intensive care unit is well staffed.
The 2011 Productivity Commission Report Caring for Older Australians described staffing ratios as "a fairly blunt instrument for ensuring quality care because of the heterogeneous and ever-changing care needs of aged care recipients."
Yet this "blunt instrument" delivers results in hospitals where patients have "ever-changing needs".
To date, protests and petitions to boost staffing ratios have failed. Mandated nurse-to-resident ratios are opposed by Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care, and the peak bodies representing for-profit and non-for profit aged care homes. They argue mandated ratios would increase costs and limit flexibility.
But the current "flexible staffing" approach leaves the decision whether to have a registered nurse on duty at the discretion of the provider/manager. Evidence suggests some managers do not employ additional staff when care needs increase.
Read more here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-03/mandated-nurse-to-resident-ratios/9820452
Source: ABC News