Nursing homes are understaffed period

Article published 23 August 2019

Nursing homes are understaffed period

DO the maths and research the data. If there are simply not enough staff in a nursing home, then they simply cannot do what needs to be done and provide adequate care. Once there are enough, then that in itself does not prevent poor practice.

Extensive studies have been done working out the minimum needed for basic care in the United States, but not in Australia because we don’t collect the necessary data.

I’m not advocating for the US system, but they have collected data for many years and have studied this carefully. Studies show a correlation between staffing and failures in care and both are related to ownership type. In the state of Pennsylvania, they have divided staffing levels into five groups based on the total numbers as well as the numbers of trained staff. The lowest level is ‘dangerously low’ and is 3.5 hours a day and less than 0.53 per hours per day for Registered Nurses.

If we look at staffing levels in Australia, we see that over half our nursing homes fall into this dangerously low level. There are simply not enough staff to provide good care in Australia. Nurses and inquiries have been telling us this for 20 years.

It is clear that this will not change until the perverse incentives in the system are removed and that will take years of change. Until then, at a minimum, we require public verified disclosure of staffing and acuity levels. These are already collected for funding purposes. These should be published alongside minimum safe levels based on acuity with suitable warnings for levels that are unsafe.

Doing anything less is to abandon common sense.

That is just the beginning and a foundation on which to build good care.

Dr Michael Wynne – Aged Care Crisis

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