A Ballarat nurse who used to work in aged care says she is ‘so disgruntled’ with residential aged care facilities she will not return to work in the sector.
The nurse, who asked not to be named, said she knew ‘several’ other nurses who formerly worked in aged care in Ballarat who had been so angry at the way aged care homes were operated they changed their career path completely.
The loss of talent in the sector comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a royal commission into the aged care sector on Sunday.
The decision follows years of campaigning by many for such an inquiry.
It will investigate the quality of aged care provided in residential and home aged care to elderly Australians, but will also include young Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care settings.
The Ballarat nurse said practices she had seen during her time working in aged care were shocking.
“People who run aged care facilities continue to lie and tick the boxes when they shouldn’t be,” she said.
They know when people are coming to look at their facilities so then they put double staff. It’s really just a lie.A Ballarat nurse
“For example a report may ask ‘does this lady get a massage or medication when they are due by the appropriate staff?’. They tick the box yes even when the answer is no.
“All they have to do is check that the residents do get their tablets by the appropriate people on that particular day when the auditors come. Another case is the manager will double normal staff working when auditors come to do their check. That is not the day to day normal running.
“They know when people are coming to look at their facilities so then they put double staff. It’s really just a lie.”
The Courier has previously spoken to family members of aged care residents who were concerned about the low nurse-to-resident ratio in residential aged care.
State government run aged care facilities are subject to legislated nurse to patient ratios in Victoria. For profit and not-for-profit facilities are not.
There are no national laws to guarantee appropriate ratios of qualified nursing staff and aged care workers.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Victorian branch assistant secretary Paul Gilbert said there said many for profit and not-for-profit aged care facilities, including ones in Ballarat, were substituting nurses with carers and in many cases reducing overall care hours per resident.
“Without ratios, this trend will continue as providers attempt to maintain their bottom line,” he said.
An ANMF statement 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’.
“Unless we have legislated minimum ratios that oblige providers to meet minimum nurse and carer numbers, the system will struggle to provide resident centred professional care and attract and retain suitably qualified staff,” Mr Gilbert said.
“Nurses and carers know this, and the community knows this, we don’t need a royal commission to tell us this.”