Queensland nurses are deeply concerned about the level of nursing available to elderly aged care residents.
Queensland nurses are deeply concerned about the level of nursing available to elderly aged care residents. Bev Lacey

LETTER: Nurses fear for aged care residents in Qld

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

QUEENSLAND nurses are deeply concerned about the level of nursing available to elderly aged care residents.

There are currently no laws that regulate how many residents can safely be allocated to a single nurse in an aged care facility. There are no laws that require even one Registered Nurse be on site all times.

A recent survey found it's not uncommon for a single aged care nurse to be allocated up to 200 residents at one time. Clearly these staffing levels are unsafe.

The Queensland Nurses' Union and nurses throughout Queensland and Australia have and will continue to vigorously campaign for change.

We have campaigned for many years for adequate staffing and skill mixes in aged care. In early 2009 we joined with our Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation colleagues from around Australia to start the Because We Care Campaign. In Queensland we turned the spotlight on current unacceptable staffing and skill mix issues in age care with the launch of our Ratios Save Lives campaign in January 2015. 

New laws governing staffing levels, or the ratio of nurses to patients, were successfully introduced in the state's public hospitals this year. However we continue to campaign for proper staffing levels in the private and aged care sectors because all people deserve the same quality of nursing and midwifery.

During a recent aged care phone survey Australian nurses and midwives fielded calls from aged care staff, residents and their friends and families. We heard stories about nurse numbers so low patients were routinely left to lie in their own waste, left unmedicated and delirious with pain or injured after falling while visiting the toilet overnight.

We documented these stories, alerted the media and will continue to lobby the state and federal governments for new laws to protect the elderly.

Beth Mohle

Secretary, Queensland Nurses' Union.

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