ANF: Aged care nurses will become extinct

The ANF is outraged by the lack of changes in the Productivity Commission report over aged care nurse wages and under-funding.

By Kate Horowitz

Nurses and the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) are disappointed by the final Productivity Commission Report Caring for Older Australians saying it fails to deal with the wage disparity and shortage of aged care nurses.

According to the ANF, the aged care sector urgently needs more than 20,000 extra nursing staff to cope with Australia’s ageing population. Aged Care nurse are getting paid between $168 and $300 on average less per week than nurses working in public hospitals. ANF estimates  $500 million is needed urgently to close the wages gap.

The Productivity Commission (PC) Report plans to set up an Aged Care Commission to fix the workforce issues. However, the commission recommendations will not be released for another three to five years.

Above: Yvonne Chaperone, Assistant Federal Secretary of ANF

Assistant Federal Secretary of ANF, Yvonne Chaperone, says that the aged care industry can’t wait another three to five years for results with aged care facilities already under staffed and nurses over worked.

“The report recommends they look at wages in another three to five years, our members can’t wait another three to five years to have the wage disparity fixed because they will all be gone by then,” Ms Chaperone said.

“There will not be any nurses left in aged care in another three to five years. With the population ageing, the government needs to make money available because the problems are compounding the longer we wait. The average age of nurses in the aged care sector is 55, they are retiring. The young newly trained nurses aren’t going to work in aged care because it’s more attractive financially to work in the public hospital down the road

“We have been complaining that this has been a problem for 10 years and have been campaigning to the government for the last two and half years.”

ANF Federal Secretary, Lee Thomas, said the report doesn’t offer real solutions to fixing Australia’s under-resourced aged care sector.

“Whilst the PC report acknowledges there are workforce issues in aged care, it contains no tangible mechanisms on how to close the wages gap for the aged care workforce so residents receive quality care they deserve,” Ms Thomas said.

“It is inconceivable that the PC, after months of public hearings and submissions from nursing staff from the various states, fails to address the $500 million required to close the wages gap for nurses and assistants in nursing (AINs) working in the sector.”

“The ANF is calling on the Gillard Government to step-in now and act by making next year’s Budget the aged care Budget”.

Ms Thomas said that the extra $500 million funding for aged care would assist in ensuring there is the right balance of skills and nursing hours so that nursing staff can deliver quality care for every resident they look after in nursing homes.

The ANF’s ongoing Because We Care campaign is calling on the Gillard Government to honour its commitment of fixing Australia’s aged care system in its second term and includes a provision that there is greater transparency to ensure any extra funding is directed to the residents of nursing homes.

1300 emails have been sent in the past week alone urging Julia Gillard to fix the crisis in aged care by nurses, assistants in nurses and community supporters.


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