Aged care workers have rallied across Australia, urging the Federal Government to legislate for improved staffing ratios in residential aged care.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation chose International Nurses Day to launch its new national campaign to fix the crisis in aged care.
Events were held in every state for people to call on federal politicians to legislate staffing ratios in residential aged care facilities as a matter of urgency.
“International Nurses Day is a day when the whole community can stop and reflect on the amazing contribution nurses make to Australia’s health and aged care systems,” the ANMF’s Acting Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said.
“And that’s what ANMF members are doing today, rallying across the country to show their support for nurses and carers working in nursing homes, who are struggling to cope as a result of chronic understaffing and increasingly dangerous workloads.”
“Without mandated staffing ratios, many providers are choosing to employ fewer and fewer nurses to care for an ever-increasing number of vulnerable residents.”
“More than 85% of nursing home residents have complex care needs, yet from 2003 to 2016 there’s been a 13% reduction in qualified nursing staff working in aged care.”
“We know staffing ratios work well in the public hospital system and in child care centres, and we know they can work in aged care.”
Senator Derryn Hinch said he had proposed bills demanding ratios in aged care, but had failed to get support.
“Not many people can say this, but the last time I was in jail, I ate better than 95 per cent of every old person in this country,” he said, touching on research that showed aged care residents were only provided $6 worth of food each day.
In Adelaide, around 200 people marched outside the office of federal Labor MP Steve Georganas.
ANMF (SA branch) CEO, Professor Elizabeth Dabars, said the campaign will be ongoing.
“This is just the very start,’’ she said.