ANMF has begun enterprise bargaining on behalf of members employed in the private and not-for-profit aged care sector.
Victoria's aged care nurses and personal care workers care for frail and elderly residents who often have complex combinations of chronic/terminal illness and dementia. These residents require and deserve the expert nursing care of registered nurses, enrolled nurses and qualified personal care workers but, regrettably, they do not always receive it.
The number of registered nurses working in aged care facilities is at record low levels and this is taking its toll on the quality and safety of resident care. In 1997 the average ratio of registered nurses to residents was one per 30 residents across all shifts.
Today staffing can be as low as only one registered nurse to every 60 residents during the day and one registered nurse to between 90 and 120 residents at night. Increasingly enrolled nurses are being pressured to act in-charge. Personal care workers are often inadequately trained to undertake increasingly complex roles. Career structures and rates of pay do not reflect these changing circumstances.
This incongruous skill mix is exacerbated by low staffing numbers, meaning that nurses and personal care staff are often struggling to provide residents with the assessed degree of appropriate care.
Another key reason for low levels of registered nurses employed in the private and not-for-profit aged care sector are the meagre wages, compared to the public acute and aged care sectors and private acute sector. Aged care facilities have difficulty attracting registered nurses because of wage differences of around 10 - 20 per cent less than public sector nurses doing the same work, depending on classification.
Benchmark minimum staffing levels, a skill mix that is capable of meeting the care needs of residents, funding accountability and better wages are critical issues that will determine the quality of care that Victorian nurses and personal care Workers can provide to our frail and elderly who can no longer live at home, or need care in their own homes.
This claim aims to address these crucial issues.