A NSW Legislative Council Committee has recommended that the NSW Government enforces staffing ratios in nursing homes and recognises the importance of registered nurses in nursing homes. The committee has also suggested setting up a register which identifies nursing home staff who are perpetrators of elder abuse.
On 21 October 2020, the NSW Parliament established a committee to enquire into the requirement of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) for a registered nurse to be on duty in a (high care) nursing home at all times. The committee made several recommendations relating to staffing and the dignity of residents in nursing homes in NSW in its report that was released on 10 June.
The report recommended that the NSW Government urge the Australian Government to implement and provide funding for staffing ratios in nursing homes in NSW.
The report also supported the presence of a registered nurse at all times in a nursing home, arguing that by having a specialised health practitioner such as a registered nurse, costs would be saved in two ways. Firstly, residents that are being treated in hospitals may be transferred back to their nursing home faster as a registered nurse is equipped to treat residents with complex care needs, and ambulance services would not be used for transferring residents to hospital for acute health conditions that a registered nurse could treat.
The committee argued that by having a registered nurse on duty all the time the public health costs of residents would be reduced, countering the argument that having a registered nurse on all the time would be too costly for some nursing homes.
However, NSW Government committee members wrote a dissenting statement, recommending that NSW wait for changes in the federal Aged Care Act to take place before making their own changes.
Changes to the federal Aged Care Act 1997 are not due for another two years.
The NSW Government previously led the way by requiring a registered nurse present in nursing homes at all times without federal law requiring this. It can do it again?