LASA CEO Sean Rooney said the value of qualified nurses in aged care should not be underestimated and is calling on the Government to implement recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
The Royal Commission recommended minimum quality and safety standards for staff time in residential aged care, including a mix of registered nurses and enrolled nurses alongside personal care workers, with at least one registered nurse on-site at all times.
It also recommended that approved providers with a higher than average proportion of high needs residents should be required to engage staff in addition to the minimum requirement.
This would require a redress of workforce issues, to ensure sufficient numbers of qualified nurses are available to meet the needs of the more than 200,000 older people currently living in residential aged care homes across Australia – and the expected increase as our population ages.
“It is incredibly important for the health, safety and wellbeing of older Australians in residential aged care, that we have sufficient nurses who are suitably qualified in geriatric care,” said Mr Rooney.
“Qualified nurses are educated to understand and treat the often complex physical and mental health needs of older people, and to recognise and respond to deterioration in cognitive skills or physical function.
“Attracting and retaining professional, qualified and caring nursing staff across Australia, particularly in regional and remote areas, will require a review of minimum award wages, with a focus on pay parity and provision for funding award increases.
“There should be a workforce program to support training, clinical placements, scholarships and other initiatives to respond to workforce challenges in a targeted manner.
“The Government and the Fair Work Commission have a role to play in increasing the number of qualified nurses working in aged care, and should do all they can, to ensure the most vulnerable members of our community get the care they deserve.”
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