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Lack of nursing representation on quality council ‘disappointing’ says Macri


Nurses play a pivotal role in the development, implementation and assessment of quality and safety in aged care and their omission from the recently appointed Aged Care Quality Advisory Council is “a great oversight,” according to Sue Macri, former associate commissioner on the Productivity Commission’s aged care inquiry and expert on aged care standards.

While the members of the council were all highly respected, it was disappointing and concerning that none of Australia’s many highly regarded nurse leaders who have comprehensive backgrounds in quality and safety would have input on the council, Ms Macri told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Sue Macri

Sue Macri

The membership of the council, announced by Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield in late February, includes provider and consumer representatives, as well as a psychiatrist and a GP.

The council is to provide advice to the Federal Government and the Aged Care Quality Agency on the agency’s functions and operations.

The board of the former Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency previously had members from nursing backgrounds, such as Professor Barbara Horner, Professor Rhonda Nay and Dr Sally Goold.

Ms Macri, a widely acknowledged authority on aged care standards, led the Macri Panel on Nursing Home Documentation and Accountability Report in 1995 and was involved in the National Review of Nursing Education in 2002 and the National Nursing and Nursing Education Taskforce in 2006. More recently she was an associate commissioner on the Productivity Commission’s wide-reaching inquiry into aged care in 2011.

In addition to the lack of nursing representation, Ms Macri said she was concerned that the council membership was “heavily weighted” towards dementia and mental health.

While this was understandable, “there are many residents who do not suffer from dementia and there needs to be a balance ensuring that those with complex care needs are not overlooked in the dementia-driven system,” she said.

“Having a good nurse clinician on the council with a well-rounded background in aged care quality and safety would ensure that people with non-dementia related morbidities are not overlooked,” she added.

Ms Macri also noted that the Federal Government had been slow to develop and release the new aged care quality indicators, which Senator Fifield has repeatedly said will help drive a new “market-based quality system” in aged care.

‘Extensive experience’: Fifield

Responding to Ms Macri’s comments on the lack of nursing representation on the council, Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield said the council members brought “extensive experience in dementia care, clinical care, home care and residential care of older Australians, and bring both consumer and provider perspectives.”

“The council will also be able to draw on a range of external expertise, including from the department’s senior nurse adviser, to enhance its work,” Senator Fifield told AAA.



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7 Responses to Lack of nursing representation on quality council ‘disappointing’ says Macri

  1. Rhonda Nay March 18, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    Unbelievable. We are talking about NURSING homes, by whatever name. GP care is extremely hard to come by and respectfully I suggest most GPs know very little about aged care. Good call Sue.

  2. Barbara Macleod March 18, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    Well written! I too am a very skilled registered nurse with a lengthy career in developing new and innovated ways to support our ageing population. My hand is up if you are interested in inviting me to join the Agency. Warm regards.

  3. LB McIntyre March 19, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Nurses are the largest group of health professionals on the planet. We are there from pre-conception to death. Quality and safety underpins the art and science of nursing.

    Yet whenever advice is required or direction needed our skills, knowledge and experience are overlooked and relegated to “external expertise.”

    What proportion of the aged care workforce do GP’s and psychiatrists make-up? Will you find them in an aged care facility seven-days a week?

    Residential aged care in Australia is changing: dementia, mental health, pallaitive care and respite care will form the basis of the new care delivery models – all driven and underpinned by nurses. Not to sit at the table and particpate actively in the with quality and safety of the sector is an insult and displays Senator Fifield’s ignornace around the function of the sector.

  4. dave March 21, 2015 at 1:30 am #

    Nurses shouldn’t be included in any care related advisory groups…only CEOs, accountants and bureaucrats should take their rightful places on the throne.

    Only they have first hand experience of resident care needs.

    Only they have intimate knowledge of the issues staff and residents deal with every day.

    All our ‘peak bodies’ (I love that term) are stacked with board members from large providers and other very important industry groups…that’s why aged care is going so well.

    Our quality agencies and advisory councils do a wonderful job (nobody can tick boxes and disregard actual care needs like they can) so the last thing we need are those damn nurses getting in the way and banging on about increasing clinical challenges, decreasing resources and an unskilled, low paid workforce.

    Go back to looking after your residents, nurses, and leave the important decisions to those who know best,

    P.S. It’s all going really well, isn’t it?

  5. Susan March 21, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    as a Division 1 RN who has spent the past 30plus years in aged care, seeking a better way for our elderly, I am gob smacked that not one nurse has been invited to participate. Who, on that panel, knows what it is like to walk into an aged care facility at 7am with the prospect of having to fully care for 7 – 8 highly dependent elderly people AND produce documentation that will satisfy bureaucrats, all within their 7 hour shift? None of them would be mad enough to take on this back breaking, impossible task, all for a pittance. Get real and for gods sake start to listen to those who really know and have done the hard yards in trying to make a difference. God help us.

  6. Julie Pool March 24, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    It really is an absurd situation not having nurse representation. As a nurse first and foremost, I too would gladly put my hand up to share my 20+ years of aged care with the advisory group.

  7. Drew Dwyer March 25, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    all nurses should be proactive on changing this outcome. The value of nursing care is the core and heart of all nursing home services and to be more concise, all care for another human being

    Stop removing the nurse from the care

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