The Queensland Nurses' Union wants better staffing levels in aged care.
The Queensland Nurses' Union wants better staffing levels in aged care.

Our elderly deserve better

QUEENSLAND'S elderly are not receiving proper care in aged-care facilities because there simply aren't enough nurses with the right skills employed.

The Queensland Nurses' Union has long campaigned for more transparency and better staffing levels and skills mix from the Federal Government, which funds Australia's aged-care sector.

A survey of aged-care staff, residents and relatives has found elderly Queenslanders are going un-medicated, being left to lie in soiled beds and suffering life-threatening injuries and illnesses as a result of horrific understaffing.

The survey found it was not uncommon for a single registered nurse (RN) to be responsible for up to 200 residents at a time. At the moment there are no laws that require even one RN be on site at an aged-care facility at all times.

Almost 2500 people took part in the phone-in and on-line questionnaire - 408 from Queensland.

Queenslanders questioned as part of the national Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation <FZ,1,0,15>(ANMF) survey last year said elderly Australians in care were dying prematurely and experiencing avoidable deaths and injuries as a result of understaffing and underskilled staff.

Those surveyed detailed how loved ones had fallen and suffered broken bones while visiting the toilet unattended overnight. In one instance a woman's badly broken arm went undiagnosed until a family member visited more than 24 hours later.

Distraught nurses, other staff, residents and relatives who took part in the survey pleaded for action to address concerns about resident safety and dignity.

A recently-released ANMF-funded independent research project found that while those in residential aged care had nearly doubled from 134,810 in 1995 to 263,788 in 2014, nurse and carer numbers had not adequately increased to meet demand and basic needs were not being met.

Findings from this National Aged Care Staffing and Skills Mix Project Report were sent to the chair of the Senate Aged Care Inquiry into the aged-care workforce. We hope the findings will encourage the committee to make significant recommendations to legislate minimum staffing levels and skills mixin residential care for the aged. Recommendations from the Committee are due in April 2017.

We need urgent action from the Federal Government now to ensure safe staffing in aged care.

Our elderly deserve better.


Queensland Nurses' Union


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