ANMF launches thinly veiled attack on Ansell Strategic’s Royal Commission submission on staffing ratios research

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The Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (ANMF) issued the press release yesterday – containing a couple of errors in the subject line – to clarify “misinformation” around aged care staff ratios.

You can read the full press release HERE.

While the release does not mention the aged care advisory firm by name, the ANMF statement is clearly directed towards Ansell’s recent submission on the research conducted by the ANMF and Flinders University in 2017 (pictured above).

As we covered last week, Ansell’s Managing Director Cam Ansell (pictured) and his team found “little empirical data to support the material assumptions used, nor the forecasted impacts of the ANMF’s proposed staffing ratios” which was even acknowledged by Flinders University.

Ansell’s Managing Director Cam Ansell

“The University concedes there is little direct evidence to underpin the key assumptions used in the modelling,” the report stated.

‘Accountants’ trying to discredit evidence, ANMF says

The ANMF has taken offense to the findings judging by the release’s content.

“Occasionally some providers and consultants, accountants and lobbyists will try to discredit arguments, evidence and research which show why minimum standards of care in the form of staffing ratios should be implemented, despite the pleas from residents and families about the shocking levels of care being delivered in many aged care facilities around Australia,” Federal Secretary Annie Butler states.

“The ANMF suggests that those making the claims about ratios and minimum staffing levels have not read or understood the ANMF’s research and reports, that they have also not read or understood the evidence provided by the ANMF to the Royal Commission and they have not listened to the heartbreaking stories of unnecessary pain and suffering being experienced by some residents in aged care.”

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler

The ANMF statement then lays out seven ‘Claims’ and a contradictory ‘Fact’ to refute each claim.

It’s a cleverly scripted piece of marketing that is clearly intended to appeal to the reader’s emotions – and a sign that the Ansell submission has struck a nerve.

‘Facts’ don’t address points in Ansell submission

But if you compare the ‘Facts’ with the Ansell report, none of the ANMF’s points directly address the six key issues raised by the Ansell team.

For example, Ansell found that there was little support for fixed staff ratios in any of the research cited by the ANMF. Rather, most of the studies concluded resident outcomes were impacted by a range of circumstances and environmental factors.

The corresponding ANMF ‘Fact’ on resident outcomes states: “The number of patients/residents assigned to a nurse has a direct impact on their ability to provide best practice care. For every patient added to a nurse’s workload, the likelihood of dying increases by 7%.”

However, it does not provide research to support the claim.

Ms Butler however is adamant in the statement that their campaign for mandated staff ratios is based on “solid, evidence-based methodology and research”.

“Our work focuses on facts, not fear with the overall aim of addressing chronic understaffing and improving care outcomes for elderly Australians in the under resourced aged care sector,” she concludes.

Cam Ansell comments on ANMF release

Interestingly, the seventh and final claim is a direct quote from the Ansell report: ‘Residential aged care is a home, not a hospital’ – to which Ms Butler simply quotes the evidence of aged care resident Ms Merle Mitchell who appeared on the first day of the Sydney hearings:

“So, people come in [to residential aged care]and they’re told this is your home now. Well, it’s not. It’s an institution, and it’s where you live. But it’s not a home, and no matter how many times they tell you, it’s still not your home. So, my answer always to anyone who tells me that is, this is where I live but it’s not a home.”

Are the ANMF are in effect saying that aged care is a hospital? If so, that is a ‘fact’ which is patently not the case.

We asked Cam for his thoughts on the press release.

“We welcome the ANMF’s continued interest in the debate and we share their vision for a better experience for older people in care,” he said.

“Unfortunately, fixed staff ratios will not facilitate this outcome, and this is confirmed in the research used in their own publications.”

“Our team of nurses work directly with residents on a daily basis and we appreciate that our experiences and perspectives will be different to that of Union representatives.”

The question now is: will the Royal Commission pay any attention to this ‘clarification’?