The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) will launch a new campaign aimed at increasing nursing staff in residential aged care following unanimous support from its members.
As part of the campaign, Assistant Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the ANMF will publicly name providers who continue to compromise the care being provided to elderly nursing home residents, as a result of inadequate staffing ratios.
“Too many nurses have been sacked and thousands of care hours slashed – it’s clear that providers are putting profits before their staff and the people they care for,” Ms Butler said at the ANMF’s Biennial National Conference in Hobart last week.
“Our members have said ‘enough is enough’ and have unanimously declared their support for a new campaign to fix the crisis in aged care.”
“At nursing homes across Australia, highly-trained nurses are being sacked and thousands of care hours slashed. The ANMF’s survey of aged care workers show that almost 80 Bupa workers alone say they’re being required to care for the same number of residents with less staff and/or less care hours.”
“In the lead-up to the federal election, a key component of our campaign will be to hold aged care providers to account on how they use taxpayers’ money.”
Ms Butler said ANMF members also unanimously passed a special resolution that the conference “stands in absolute unity with Victorian Branch members in Bupa aged care facilities in their industrial action seeking fair and just wages, improved staffing and conditions.”
The Union has rejected Bupa’s latest offer of a 11.25 per cent wage increase over three years, and protection of penalty rates including weekend loadings, according to Maureen Berry, Bupa Aged Care Australia Chief Nurse.
“While the tightening of government funding is a threat to the sustainability of the aged care sector, we reject any suggestion that we have allowed this to impact on the care and wellbeing of our residents. The care and wellbeing of residents in our care homes is our absolute priority,” Ms Berry said.
“On the separate matter of our wage negotiations with our Victorian workforce, we continue to negotiate in good faith with the Unions. Our latest offer includes an 11.25 per cent wage increase over three years, and protection of penalty rates including weekend loadings. The ANMF does not accept this offer.”
Cameron O’Reilly, CEO of the Aged Care Guild, said the crux of the problem remains cuts to government funding and stakeholders need to work together to fix it.
“The assertion that providers are putting profits before people is a false representation of the aged care sector. To pursue industrial objectives in that way unnecessarily damages the industry’s reputation and hurts the whole sector, which should be united in addressing the fact that there is no long term plan to fund care for our elderly,” Mr O’Reilly said.
“We look forward to working with all stakeholders in the aged care sector to address this pressing problem with government.”
Meanwhile, the Aged Care Amendment (Ratio of Skilled Staff to Care Recipients Bill 2017), introduced by Senator Derryn Hinch on 6 September remains before the Senate.
The Amendment proposes the introduction of a minimum ratio of appropriately skilled staff to care recipients determined by the number of care recipients receiving care through the aged care service at that time and the type of care and level of care provided.