Counsel’s recommendations will protect older Australians and must be implemented

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) has praised the insightful and comprehensive Counsel Assisting’s Final Submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety for providing effective solutions to the dangerous deficiencies plaguing aged care in Australia.

“The personal stories that have been bravely shared over the life of the Commission have been extremely disturbing. We have known for some time we need to do better by our older Australians, but the hearings and submissions shone a spotlight on the sector-wide shortcomings and gave those in aged care their voice back,” Australian College of Nursing CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said.

ACN welcomes the majority of recommendations of the Final Submission as they reflect the measures health and aged care leaders deemed priorities.

“The recommendation of a staged approach to reach a staffing minimum in residential aged care of one Registered Nurse on site at all times by 1 July 2024 and respecting that case mix is vital to the determination of minimum staffing levels, are in line with ACN’s submission to the Royal Commission,” Adjunct Professor Ward explained.

“We also commend the report’s call for increased wages and indexation of nursing salaries in residential and home aged care and compulsory regulation of Personal Care Workers.

“Combined these actions will strengthen the aged care nursing workforce and provide older Australians with access to best practice care.

“ACN applauds the fact the recommendations address difficult issues such as diversity, cultural safety and pay equality.

“We must recognise that aged care is part of every person’s individual health journey, and not simply about which accommodation option people take.”

Other aspects of the submission supported by ACN include its call for specific aged care education and training and training for aged care health professionals and workers in palliative care, dementia and infection control.

“This year’s Federal Budget included $10.8 million over five years to enhance the skills and competencies of Enrolled Nurses and Registered Nurses working in aged care by expanding ACN’s Scholarship Program and establishing an Aged Care Transition to Practice Program, which will be key in meeting this recommendation by Counsel,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.

“ACN also supports the proposal for a new Medicare item number to enable nurse practitioners to conduct a comprehensive health assessment when an aged care recipient begins to receive residential aged care or personal care at home and ongoing regular reviews.

“Tragically the report also reveals the unacceptable magnitude of assaults in aged care. ACN has zero tolerance for abuse, particularly when it is perpetrated on vulnerable members of our community who must be able to trust their care givers. Wiping out abuse in aged care must be a national priority.”

“Overall, the recommendations respect the views of experts, including those with personal experience of aged care, and ACN will be disappointed if they are not accepted and implemented by the appropriate governments and organisations.”

/Public Release. View in full here.