To mark the one-year anniversary of the royal commission’s final report into the troubled aged care system, members of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) are speaking out – expressing their heartbreak and disgust that Prime Minister Scott Morrison ‘hasn’t done his job’ to stop the suffering of elderly Australians living in aged care.
The royal commission recommended that staff ratios be introduced into aged care, but 12-months on and despite worsening staffing exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, the ANMF says the prime minister and his cabinet have done nothing to address concerns.
The ANMF says the two-year inquiry, which contained more than 10,000 submissions involving distressing evidence from overwhelmed nurses, carers, nursing home residents and their families, confirmed what it says it has known for far too long – that elderly Australians in privately-run aged care facilities were receiving sub-standard care because of dangerously-low staffing levels.
“Our nurses and carers are telling us they’re disgusted that Mr Morrison and his Government have done nothing to fix aged care,” ANMF federal secretary Annie Butler said today.
“A year since the royal commission delivered its final report, with one of its key recommendations for staffing ratios, nothing’s changed.
“There’s still not enough staff to give residents the basic care they need.”
Aged care nurses and care-workers, the ANMF says, are angry, frustrated and dismayed at the Government’s ‘lack of action’ and are voicing their concerns in a series of national TV and radio commercials and a social media campaign, starting today.
In one TV ad, aged care nurse Samantha wipes away a tear as she says: ‘If you were to come into an aged care facility and see what I see every day you’d be heartbroken, you’d be disgusted and you’d want to make a change too. Because our residents deserve more. Our staff deserve more and change needs to happen.’
Another nurse, Irene, tells the Government: ‘What part of this don’t you get? You’ve had that many testimonies and people saying what’s going wrong in aged care. We’re saying it’s in crisis. Why aren’t you believing us? What are you going to do about it? I want a government that’s got some guts. That will take a stance on this; that will give us the resources we need.’
Today, nurses and carers are staging a series of protests outside the offices of government ministers and MPs, including the Devonport office of Richard Colbeck, whose lack of regard, the ANMF says, for older Australians was ‘infamously laid bare by his choice to attend an Ashes test match instead of a Parliamentary Inquiry into the COVID outbreak sweeping through Australia’s nursing homes’.
The ANMF has participated in an online forum today titled ‘Aged Care in Crisis: 12 months on from the royal commission – what needs to happen next?’, involving members of the aged care workforce and a panel of high-profile advocates and experts, discussing what it will take to ensure a quality aged care system.
“While the prime minister, health minister and aged care minister refuse to do their job, our members will not,” Butler said.
“Nurses and care-workers will not stand by and watch those in our care suffer any longer – the message is clear – no more talking, no more ‘taskforces’, no more ‘inquiries’, no more deferring responsibility – only action.
“We also know that the whole community now understands the state of the crisis in aged care.
“We can and we must fix it now. We need a Government that will take responsibility for caring for older Australians and make staff ratios law.
“As our ANMF members say, we need a Government with guts.”