The Australian nursing Federation has called on the Federal Government to urgently make a commitment to solving the care crisis for Australia’s elderly by ensuring staffing levels, fixing the wage gap for nurses in aged care, and ensuring the licensing of all aged care workers.

ANF Assistant Federal Secretary Gerardine Kearney said revelations that nearly half of all aged care facilities audited in Queensland failed to meet accreditation standards is indicative of serious and ongoing problems facing the aged care sector around the nation.

Ms Kearney said the government should introduce minimum staffing levels in aged care facilities. Nurses and other care workers cannot provide quality care if they are continually short staffed.

“Those nurses still working in Aged Care are paid, on average, $250 per week less then their colleagues in other areas. They can earn up to $20,000 less per annum. How does Mr. Pyne (Federal minister for Aging) expect to retain quality nursing staff in the aged care sector under those circumstances and when will the federal government start putting mechanisms in place to ensure funding reaches the nurses working there, giving Australia’s elderly a better chance of receiving quality residential care?”

The ANF says another huge problem for quality care in nursing homes is the lack of licensing of aged care workers.

“All aged care workers should be licensed;” Ms Kearney said, “Licensing of nurses, doctors and other health professionals is undertaken for a very good reason – to protect the public.”

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