A NSW federal MP has used his maiden speech in parliament to draw attention to the staff shortages in aged care and to push for minimum staffing ratios in the industry.
Craig Thomson (pictured) – the member for Dobell on the state’s central coast – is a former state Assistant Secretary of the Health Services Union and is president of ‘Coastal Voice’, a community group that has held forums on ageing issues.
“Staffing shortfalls jeopardise the health, safety and quality of life experienced by residents in aged care facilities,” he said.
“There is a greater risk they will be injured, be attacked by other residents, be given the wrong medication, not get sufficient exercise or treatment from specialists, receive inadequate clinical care and not be properly supervised even in an emergency situation.”
Mr Thomson praised staff working in aged care for their commitment to care but said that difficult working conditions were causing demanding and stressful conditions for many.
“Working in aged care, for too many staff, has become more dangerous and less fulfilling,” he said.
In the speech, Mr Thomson proposed minimum staffing levels for all care and ancillary staff in nursing homes and hostels, citing Accreditation Agency audits and a 2001 report from the US Department of Health and Human Services which he said drew compelling links between staffing levels and quality of care.
“Minimum staffing levels covering all care and ancillary staff are the only way to provide a basic guarantee of care and safety for residents and their families,” he said.
Mr Thomson also called for a “re-write” of the Accreditation Standards to make them measurable and enforceable.