The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) welcomes that mandating registered nurses in aged care 24/7 has been one of the first pieces of legislation put forward during the first sitting of the new Parliament. However, they have urged the measure to be supported by a range of other measures ensuring there is a sustainable and highly educated workforce of aged care nurses caring for Australians for generations to come.
“It is pleasing to see the broad-ranging impact of nurse leadership on the health of our most vulnerable recognised in one of the first acts of the new Government,” ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN.
“Nurses are on the frontlines of managing the complex health conditions experienced by our vulnerable elderly population and we use their skills and compassion to ensure their concerns are heard and managed. As somebody who has worked as an aged care nurse myself, I personally understand the benefit our around the clock presence will have on our elderly Australians receive the high-quality care they deserve.”
Kay Richards FACN, Chair of ACN’s Healthy Ageing Faculty said “Registered nurses in residential aged care need to be recognised as the clinical steward for resident safety and quality care delivery. Without strong clinical leadership care delivery can fall short. Having appropriately trained and skilled nurses to direct care and service delivery is vital”.
However, Adjunct Professor Ward outlined that mandatory staffing levels were only one piece of the puzzle and attention also needs to focus on recruitment and retention of nurses to fill the positions as well as ensuring they are supported with sufficient training and education.
“When the policy was initially announced during the Budget Reply, I urged the then opposition extend their focus to providing nurses with the necessary education and training in gerontology to align with clinical skills with the evolving needs of residents,” she said.
“This needs to be supported with greater recognition of nurses currently working in the sector and public campaigns to highlight the benefits of pursuing a career as an aged care nurse.
“I have also been vocal on the importance of targeted permanent migration of aged care nurses who are based overseas and want to call Australia their home. This policy is crucial to ensuring the positions there is enough nursing staff to staff residential aged care facilities 24/7.
“As I said in welcoming the Government’s decision to prioritise permanent visa processing welcome in areas of need like nursing and aged care, if we don’t welcome these nurses another country will.”