John Pollaers and ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler join forces to push Government for staffing ratios

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A surprise move. The Chair of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) have issued a joint statement, saying they are “deeply concerned” that politicians have deferred the crisis in aged care to a Royal Commission.

The Taskforce released its report ‘A Matter of Care – Australia’s Aged Care Workforce Strategy’ – which identified 14 strategic actions aimed at boosting workforce supply, addressing demand issues and improving workforce productivity – in June this year but so far, the Government has only established one committee.

Professor Pollaers and Ms Butler say they recognise the Aged Care Royal Commission is important and necessary, but it should not mean a delay in reforms.

“Australia has the opportunity to be a world leader in our delivery of aged care just as we are in our delivery of health care.”

“Studies identify that the main reason for missed care, or low‐quality care, in residential aged care facilities is that there is not enough staff available. And in a sector with an increasingly poor record of recruitment and retention of nurses and other key staff, shortages are now reaching critical proportions.”

“A living well model of care, which enables effective care delivery by dedicated registered nurses with qualified care‐workers and is guided by interdisciplinary teams of general practitioners, geriatricians, palliative care specialists, nurse practitioners, dietitians, speech pathologists and allied health workers, will result in safe and best practice care for our elderly.”

Professor Pollaers and Ms Butler say they know it requires investment, but this will be recovered through more jobs and productivity gains over time.

“All politicians must face up to the funding shortfall required to ensure the minimum staffing levels and skills mix are in place and that government funding is tied to the delivery of holistic care.”

“The measure of a society is how it cares for its elderly, those who cared for us.”

“Right now, we don’t measure up, but we can, and we can become the world leader in care for the elderly we should be.”

Will the politicians listen, however? With the first hearing for the Royal Commission due to kick off on 18 January 2019 – and Parliament not set to resume until February – it seems the Government is leaving the future of the sector up to the Royal Commission.