Call to strengthen nurse leader input on reforms

Australian governments must strengthen the currently under-utilised voice of nurse leaders in health and aged care reform and ensure their representation at all levels and stages of the process, the Australian College of Nursing says.

From left: Professor Christine Duffied, Adjunct Professor Kathy Baker, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward
From left: Professor Christine Duffied, Adjunct Professor Kathy Baker, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward

Australian governments must strengthen the currently under-utilised voice of nurse leaders in health and aged care reform and ensure their representation at all levels and stages of the process, the Australian College of Nursing says. 

Australia’s 360,000-strong nursing workforce was well-suited to drive reform and achieve person-centred and sustainable change, but it was not being used to its potential, the ACN said in a new white paper.

“Nursing is under-represented in debates and decision making, meaning that the nursing voice is not being heard, and patient-centred and sustainable reform is being placed at risk,” the ACN argued in the paper Nurses are Essential in Health and Aged Care Reformlaunched by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday.

There needs to be support for nurses to work to their full and expanded scope of practice to achieve the desired improvements in access, quality and sustainable health, the college said.

The ACN's new white paper
The ACN’s new white paper

It also called for investment in nursing leadership to support mentoring, professional development, resilience and capacity building.

The paper said nurses were a powerful – but untapped – force for system-wide change as they advised on, developed, implemented and evaluated models of care that improved coordination and service delivery.

To better utilise their expertise, the ACN called on governments to engage nursing leadership when discussing and acting on health and aged care reform, and to work together on six strategies to ensure recognition and support for the profession.

Prime Minister Turnbull said the government understood the value nurses brought to policy discussion, which was why they were on several Commonwealth health and aged care committees.

ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward said the collective voice of the nursing profession could not be ignored in the health and aged care reform agenda.

“ACN is ready and willing to work with the Australian Government and health care partners towards positive health and aged care reform,” she said.

Aged care reform

Pat Sparrow
Pat Sparrow

Aged care peak bodies said they supported the inclusion of nurse leaders in aged care reform.

Aged and Community Services Australia CEO Pat Sparrow said any reform discussion should have input from the sector’s major stakeholder groups.

“Nurses are integral part of aged care and will continue to make a valuable contribution to discussions around the future of the industry,” Ms Sparrow told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney agreed it was important for nurses to be engaged in discussions with government on aged care reform.

Sean Rooney
Sean Rooney

“Nurses, along with other health professionals including GPs, in consultation with the consumer, should work together to ensure the best outcomes are achieved,” Mr Rooney told AAA.

He said nurses had a significant voice in aged care through committees including the Aged Care Sector Committee and the National Aged Care Alliance, and LASA worked closely with groups such as the ACN’s Aged Care Expert Advisory Group.

“LASA believes nurses play an extremely important role in aged care as part of the broader workforce, but are concerned that Government cuts to education and training funding will have a detrimental effect on the nursing workforce in the industry,” he said.

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Tags: acn, aged-care-reform, Australian College of Nursing, kylie-ward, lasa, Sean Rooney,

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