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Call for 24/7 registered nurses at aged-care facilities

CALLS for registered nurses to remain on duty at all times in the state's high-care aged facilities now have the support of a parliamentary inquiry - with some stipulations.

North Coast Nurses director Samantha Cox urged the State Government to heed the review's advice.

"It's just commonsense," she said. "If you spoke to any registered nurse working in aged care, they would tell you RNs need to be available on the floor at all times.

"The care staff are the heart and soul of aged care - the nurses who do the showering and hands-on care - but they don't have the skills and knowledge to do what an RN does because they haven't had the training."

Upper House Greens MP Jan Barham, who chaired the inquiry, said high-care nursing homes should have a properly trained nurse on hand every hour of the day.

But she called for "some flexibility" around the financial impact homes could face in meeting the requirement, especially in regional areas.

"To this end, the committee endorsed the opportunity for aged care providers to apply for exemptions ... on a case-by-case basis and exemptions may be granted where a home can prove it is still able to demonstrate the provision of high quality care."

Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association advisor Charmaine Crowe was concerned providers could exploit the option for exemptions to save money.

"However, the report is clear - the NSW Government must continue its role in mandating registered nurses in nursing homes because the Commonwealth regulations governing nursing home staffing are totally inadequate," she said.

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