Aged-care homes require a highly skilled workforce plus robust regulation.
Registered nurses now account for fewer than 15 per cent of the residential aged-care workforce. Photo: Louise Kennerley
Aged care needs a shake-up. For older Australians to receive the quality of care they deserve, aged-care homes require a highly skilled workforce plus robust regulation.
Caring for older people with health issues such as dementia and incontinence is a demanding job that requires specific expertise. Aged-care homes need staff who have time to talk with residents, encourage them to walk and give them food they like. When an aged-care home has insufficient staff, there may not be time for residents to be walked to the toilet or even helped out of bed.
Recently an elderly woman in an aged-care home died in excruciating pain because no one on duty was qualified to administer the prescribed morphine. The woman's daughter was so traumatised by the situation, she could not remain at her mother's bedside to hold her hand.
According to the Aged Care Act (1997), providers must "maintain an adequate number of appropriately skilled staff to ensure that the care needs of care recipients are met". Determining how many staff and what level of skill are required is contested.