The fifth annual National Elder Abuse Conference will be held from 19 February to 20 February this year in Sydney. This is after a recent government report recommended changes to reduce elder abuse in aged care.
Residential Care Staffing Shortage a Conference Topic
“There are not enough staff to deliver quality care.”
Elders in aged care are being neglected due to lack of staff, says ANMF NSW senior professional officer Helen Macukewicz, who will speak at the Conference about how staffing levels affect elder abuse in residential care.
ANMF NSW members “consider that a chronic shortfall in staffing numbers and inadequate skills mix means that elder abuse is prevalent in residential aged care,” Ms Macukewicz told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“Our members tell us they were often the only registered nurse for up to 200 people across multiple sites.”
Ms Macukewicz said staffing shortages also meant unsafe medication management practices.
A worker surveyed in the 2016 ANMF NSW report on elder abuse in aged care said staff were unable to complete all their tasks.
“Staff take shortcuts and skip care duties to get duties completed within a certain timeframe. There are not enough staff to deliver quality care,” the assistant in nursing said.
Australian Law Reform Commission Inquires into Elder Abuse
Last June the Australian Law Reform Commission called for higher staffing standards to ensure residents received proper care.
The elder abuse inquiry proposed a more thorough screening process for aged care workers and a new benchmark for safe staffing levels. It recommended that the planned National Code of Conduct for Healthcare Workers should apply to unregistered aged care workers.
These were among the wide range of reforms the report proposed. The reforms would prevent financial, psychological, physical, or sexual abuse of elders.
Of the 43 recommendations, 14 were changes to residential and aged care laws.
Conference Receives International Attention
Ms Macukewicz is one of more than 500 speakers at the Conference. These include Ken Wyatt, Commonwealth Minister for Aged Care. International experts on ageing will also attend the conference, held at Sydney’s Sofitol Hotel.