I recently asked politicians, CEOs of peak bodies that represent aged care homes, unions and aged care advocates to tell me whether they support/oppose minimum ratios of registered nurses in aged care homes and why they take this position. This is their response.
In recent years, there have been numerous heart-breaking stories about aged care homes. When stories about inadequate personal care, neglect, abuse and negligence are reported in the media, the aged care industry dismisses these stories as ‘one-offs’. But are they?
To answer this question, we need data from people who have first-hand experiences in aged care homes – residents, relatives and staff. They know what day-to-day life is like in aged care homes.
There is a link to a survey for staff the end of this article.
In this opinion piece, I claim the editorial “Rethinking The Staff-Quality Relationship In Nursing Homes” (2018) provides evidence of a positive relationship between the quantity of staff and quality of care.
More than 160,000 Australians live in an aged care home. Recent media reports have highlighted inadequate personal care, neglect, abuse and negligence suggesting that the quality of care in some aged care homes is a disgrace.
Sarah Russell’s mother, Joan, died in a nursing home in September 2015. She believes the death was premature.
“When my mother was engaged, she was terrific. When she was alone and not engaged, she’d suffer anxiety … [and] she would get up and walk,” Dr Russell, a public health researcher, said.
Dr Russell gave up work to look after her, but she could not be there at all times, so she attached a note to her mother’s walking frame to warn the personal care assistants at the aged care facility not to leave her walker within reach.
One day, in the dining room after lunch, they did.
“She got up and walked, fell over. She didn’t break her hip, but she did damage her ribs, and six weeks later she was dead. The GP made the connection between the fall and her decline … I think the fall hastened her death.”
Registered and enrolled nurses now account for less than 27% of this workforce, while personal care attendants (PCAs) make up 68%. Much of the hands-on care that registered and enrolled nurses once provided is now being provided by PCAs.