Details of Australia’s Royal Commission into aged care were announced this week – but Australian nurses argue that mandated staffing ratios are needed urgently now.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison released the Commission’s Terms of Reference on October 9 saying the country had to “brace itself for some difficult stories”, reported the Australian Associated Press. Morrison also said he saw the commission as the first step in “re-establishing the trust that loved ones will be treated with dignity and with respect”.
But the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation said a Royal Commission would do nothing to fix the crisis in aged care unless the Government introduced mandated staffing ratios in residential nursing homes as “a matter of urgency”.
The Federation launched a major campaign at the beginning of 2018 calling for mandated staffing including a petition that has received more than 230,000 signatures. The Federation says currently residents received around 2.86 hours of care per day from nurses and carers which was “nowhere near enough time to shower, toilet, medicate, dress, feed, roll over or move – let alone talk to – a resident”. It says residents should instead receive a minimum of 4.3 hours per day.
It argues that a Royal Commission will delay action to address “dangerous understaffing in nursing homes across the country” with “too often” only one registered nurse to manage the care for over 100 residents or “only one carer to feed, bathe, dress and mobilise 16 residents in less than an hour”.
The Government’s initial request for a Royal Commission was announced on September 16 the day before an ABC Four Corners investigation into the care of the elderly in Australian rest homes.
The two commissioners are due to release an interim report on 31 October 2019, with a final report due on 30 April 2020.
The inquiry is to be based in Adelaide where cases of rest home abuse at a state-run nursing home prompted a senate inquiry last year.