NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association members and family members of aged care residents are calling for more staff.
NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association members and family members of aged care residents are calling for more staff. Aisling Brennan

Elderly put in danger as nurses 'pulled in every direction'

FAMILIES who fear their loved ones in aged care are being neglected as they wait up to 40 minutes for assistance, want to see more staff employed immediately.

Nurses and residents working at the Bupa Aged Care Pottsville Beach facility protested on Thursday about chronic understaffing issues, claiming a lack of staff is creating enormous gaps in the level of care provided.

For three years Pottsville resident Shane Thompson has been visiting his 93-year-old father at the Seabreeze facility and said the nursing staff were "so under the pump that the duty of care has gone out the door".

"I'm here every day and you see a lot of mistakes," Mr Thompson said.

"There's a lack of quality care because the guys are trying to do way too much, they're trying their hardest but it's not fair on them and there's no management support for them at all.


Pottsville aged care nurses are rallying together calling for more staff.
Pottsville aged care nurses are rallying together calling for more staff. Scott Powick NEWSCORP

"The flow-on from that is mistakes in medication and quality of care. I've seen either wrong medication handed out or it's not being given at the right times or medication has been found on the floor. I've addressed management half a dozen times this year about it and it's actually just gotten worse. Nothing has been done."

Mr Thompson said staffing problems had left him feeling anxious about his father. "It's very stressful for the family, there's no peace of mind when you leave and you're always just constantly worried," he said.

Cudgera Creek resident James Lees said staff were "pulled in every direction", which left residents like his wife being left unattended for hours.

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"It doesn't look good when I walk into my wife's bathroom to find faeces all around the toilet bowl," Mr Lees said.* "The hallways are empty because staff are just flat-out. It can take 20-40 minutes for a call-out. The nurses are working extremely hard and have to be everywhere."

A spokesperson for Bupa Aged Care said the company believed it was meeting industry standards and employed the right amount of staff to deliver appropriate care for residents.

Royal Commission into aged care

Meanwhile, the community has a chance to share its thoughts on the state of aged care facilities ahead of the Royal Commission into the sector.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said consultation will continue across the country to contribute to the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission.

The minister hosted four roundtables earlier this week in Sydney, canvassing input from care consumers, family members, the workforce, providers and diversity groups.

"The roundtables will add to the more than 4,800 Terms of Reference submissions we have received online and through emails to my office," Mr Wyatt said.

"I know that every one of the almost 80 representatives attending has important concerns to contribute, as we work together to prepare for this historic inquiry.

"What you are doing has the potential to benefit all Australian families, now and into the future.

"I thank everyone who is contributing to the work under way to develop the Royal Commission's Terms of Reference."

Public submission on the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Aged Care can be sent to ken.wyatt.mp@aph.gov.au.

* This quote has been updated upon the request of Mr Lees to reflect the fact the toilet bowl was dirty and not a basin as originally reported.

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