Aged Care is an area that will require more trained staff in the future as the population ages.
Aged Care is an area that will require more trained staff in the future as the population ages. Bev Lacey

Nurses fight for jobs in aged-care facilities

Nurses across the Northern Rivers are angry after the NSW government signalled it would drop the legal requirement for a registered nurse to be on site at all times in aged care facilities that look after people with high-care needs.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) condemned any decision to allow nursing homes to operate without a fully qualified registered nurse.

They arguing it would leave thousands of vulnerable elderly people in the sole care of unregulated workers.

"Nurses are not going to stand for this," Tweed Heads registered nurse Zoe-Anne Guinea said.

The current obligations are not onerous as facilities with over 100 patients only have to have one nurse on overnight, she said.

Care workers make up the bulk of aged care staff, and while "they do a wonderful job and work very hard, they are not medically trained," she said.

The move will put too much extra pressure on these workers. "It's terrible," she said.

Dropping the requirement for a registered nurse would mean care workers will have to call ambulances to deal with minor issues. It could also mean a lot of unnecessary trips to emergency departments, putting extra pressure on hospitals.

A NSW Parliamentary inquiry into registered nurses in NSW nursing homes recommended the laws to keep registered nurses in place, should be maintained.

Instead the NSW Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner advised that the government would follow Commonwealth legislation that does not currently recognise the need for an around-the-clock registered nurse, the NSWNMA said.

There is no specific timetable for bringing in the changes but "profit-based aged care operators will be trying to get these changes through as soon as possible," Ms Guinea said.



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