An announcement of proposed nursing role cuts has caused alarm at the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF). This is due to news that yet another major aged care provider is proposing these changes. Furthermore, there are claims that up to 11 nursing staff may be sacked. This announcement emanated from Blue Care. The three facilities in Bundaberg, Queensland are believed to be in Millbank, Pioneer and Riverlea.
Reasons for the proposed changes
Blue Care is Queensland’s largest aged care provider. It claims that a $1.2 billion reduction in Federal funding is motivating the changes. The ANMF has expressed concern about these changes. Furthermore, they believe they will compromise the quantity and quality of care for elderly residents. Southern Cross Care Tasmania was the first aged care facility to propose these changes.
The ANMF’s concerns
The Federal Secretary of the ANMF, Lee Thomas, expressed several concerns. Notably, that Blue Care might replace specialist aged care nurses with less qualified personal care workers. In particular, they cited the administration of critical medication to more than 280 nursing home residents. Ms Thomas noted the Federation fears this might prove to be a slippery slope. Furthermore, many of the residents are vulnerable, have complex care needs and medication regimes.
Ms Thomas cited Blue Care’s Mission Statement. Notably the declaration that they are committed to assisting people who require care. However, slashing hundreds of nursing hours and allowing less qualified personal care workers to administer medication might compromise the level of care to residents.
The ANMF is concerned that Blue Care is blatantly ignoring the findings of a recent Senate enquiry. Also, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) and evidence from ANMF members working in aged care. Namely, that inadequate staffing levels are having a negative impact. Particularly an increase in missed-care episodes, abuse and neglect of elderly residents.
The ANMF wants Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt to step in and put a stop to what is happening. Their main concern is that other aged care providers will adopt similar practices. Furthermore, they believe this will add to the current crisis in Aged Care.
The Aged Care Providers’ responses
Both the above-mentioned aged care facilities have responded. One comment they made was that their current staffing model is not sustainable. In fact, they expressed their need to operate their services in a sustainable way. Also, they believe failure to do so would put them at risk of being unable to respond to community needs and expectations.
The ANMF is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia. Moreover, they have over 259,000 members.