On Sunday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten (pictured above) announced a late pledge from Labor to improve the aged care system if elected.
Mr Shorten has promised to:
- Increase the number of and access to home care packages
- Increasing staffing levels and skills
- Publish the skill mix of the aged care workforce employed at every nursing home
- Ensure the appropriate skills mix of properly-trained staff is on duty at all times
- Ensure there is an RN present on site at all residential aged care facilities, 24 hours a day
- Immediately start work on the implementation of the Matter of Care workforce strategy to address understaffing
- Address the number of GPs working in aged care
- Provide TAFE places for 20,000 aged care students
These promises appear to be largely in response to the release of a national aged care survey last week by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Foundation’s (ANMF) – the country’s largest union representing over 275,000 nurses, midwives and carers.
The survey results revealed that 90% of nurses and carers were unable to ensure all residents received ‘basic care’ due to inadequate staffing levels.
ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler (pictured), has commended Mr Shorten and the ALP “for their commitment to take immediate action” on aged care.
“Years of inaction from Governments and lack of responsibility from far too many aged care providers have resulted in an aged care workforce that is at breaking point. Aged care nurses and carers are completely demoralised by what they’re forced to put up with, including being unfairly targeted and blamed for the ongoing systemic failures of a sector in crisis”, she said.
“It’s time that the people who are actually responsible for the aged care sector and the quality of the service it delivers took responsibility for its failures.”
But Ms Butler, a vocal critic of for-profit aged care operators – and money from aged care going to private shareholders – said there is still “much work to do” to “ensure transparency for all Government funding for the sector to make sure taxpayers’ money is used for the direct care of residents.”
LASA has also “cautiously welcomed” the ALP’s commitment to aged care but that they would have preferred to hear “fully costed responses” – and that these commitments should be backed by specific funding plans.