Aged care funding must guarantee the safety of all nursing home residents

The additional $205 million COVID-19 funding for aged care providers should be directly used to employ more nurses and suitably-qualified care staff and ensure the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).

 

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Federal Secretary Annie Butler said that with the funding provided to the aged care sector to manage COVID-19 now amounting to more than $850 million, aged care providers must address chronic understaffing and the ongoing shortages of PPE as a matter of urgency if Australia is to ensure the safety and protection of all nursing home residents.

 

“The Prime Minister said today [1 May 2020] that the new COVID-19 payment for aged care is aimed at reinforcing levels of safety and care for those who need it most but he provided no guarantee to the Australian public that this will actually happen,” Ms Butler said.

 

“Without clear transparent requirements of providers to publicly account for how they spend these funds, we cannot be confident that the money will be used to implement the safety measures that are urgently needed.

 

“The most important measure to defeat the COVID-19 outbreak is to guarantee that the right numbers of staff with the right level of skills are available to meet all needs of residents.

 

“This will require every facility to have: registered nurses on duty on every shift; sufficient numbers of experienced care-workers; and, sufficient additional staff to undertake screening procedures and any other safety measures required.

 

“Aged care nurses and care-workers are stretched to their limits and are giving their all to provide the best care for their residents in these difficult times, a fact which went unacknowledged by both the Prime Minister and the Minister in today’s announcement, leaving our members feeling not only undervalued and unappreciated, but also uncertain.

 

“Unless processes, which require transparency and accountability for the use of these additional funds, are implemented, our members cannot be sure that the funds will be used to address the problems at the core of the sector’s lack of capacity to deal with the pandemic. They are concerned that frail, vulnerable residents, and the nurses and care-workers caring for them, will remain at increased risk from COVID-19.

 

“We are therefore asking the Government to require aged care providers to publicly demonstrate that the additional resources provided to them are being spent directly on increasing nursing and care skills in their facilities.”

 

2 May 2020.