Lessons learnt about aged care from Victoria 

26 November 2020

The ANMF (SA Branch) has welcomed the Victorian Government’s $40 million kick-start initiative to implement minimum nurse/carer to resident ratios in private aged care.

The move to improve the clinical care, safety and dignity of residents is contingent on the Commonwealth Government, as the primary regulator and funder of aged care, also coming to the table, and puts the issue of much-needed safe staffing firmly in the spotlight.

The 2020-21 Victorian budget announcement has also prompted the ANMF (Victorian Branch) to call for state and territory governments to take over residential aged care so that nursing homes are truly integrated with their own public and private health services, saying “the brutal lessons of COVID-19 tell us Victorians need one integrated health system’’.

The damning and tragic statistics show market forces have badly failed aged care. There have been 655 COVID-19 related deaths in Victorian private residential aged care. There is no law or regulation that mandates a minimum number of nurses or carers per shift in the sector which is legislated and regulated by the Federal Government. These facilities do not provide details about their staffing levels but typically only have one registered nurse in a management role, not direct care, for often 90 or more residents.

Three residents contracted COVID-19 in Victorian Government-run public aged care facilities and there were no deaths.

Victorian public aged care facilities have state legislated ratios of one nurse to seven residents, plus a nurse in charge, in the morning, one nurse to eight residents, plus a nurse in charge, in the evening and one nurse to 15 residents overnight.

In South Australia, we too, along with ANMF branches across Australia, have long campaigned to stop systemic understaffing in private aged care.

We continue to urge the Morrison Government to also support funding mandated, minimum nursing levels to care for our parents, grandparents and loved ones and then hand an appropriately funded system to the states and territories.