NSW Registered Nurses in aged care report

A report by the Legislative Council Standing Committee tabled in the NSW Parliament on 29 October 2015 recommended that RNs be on duty in residential aged care at all times.


Dr Maree Bernoth, a senior lecturer in CSU's School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health made a submission to the inquiry and has welcomed the recommendation.


"In recommending that they stay it means the committee has listened to what advocates have had to say and really understood that the needs of people in residential aged care are becoming more complex as the population in those facilities are more frail and the conditions that they are living with are more complex," she said.


"We want quality of life for those people and the only way we can achieve that is by having Registered Nurses in those facilities."


Dr Bernoth is also encouraged that the Committee has recommended investigating programs and incentives to support registered nurses to train and work in regional, rural and remote areas.


Dr Bernoth said, "Even though it is a challenge to have Registered Nurses in rural and regional areas we need to see that as an opportunity and put in place programs to encourage nurses into those areas and keep them there.


"That's what we're doing with a project in Dubbo. In a very short space of time we have demonstrated how you can build links between the aged care community sector, the residential facilities, the hospital, Charles Sturt University and TAFE to build an environment where students can learn and where they can appreciate just how exciting and challenging aged care can be."


In her submission Dr Bernoth also outlined a different model of caring for older people practised in Sweden and is pleased to see that the Committee is calling for further investigation. (See also Dutch nursing home lets students live free.)


Dr Bernoth said recommendations for NSW to push for aged care reform through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) at a national level should also be adopted.


"It's exciting to see that the Committee has recommended a licensing body for care workers and for a working with older people check," she said.


"There's also recommendations surrounding standards monitoring, complaints handling and transparency within the aged care sector. This is an opportunity for improving the quality of care."


The State Government has until the end of April to respond to the report. Dr Bernoth said by adopting the recommendation NSW could lead the way in delivering better care for the elderly.


The report Registered nurses in NSW nursing homes is available on the NSW Parliamentary website.


2 November 2015.